The Mount Zion High School softball team already knocked one Region 1-A state qualifier out of the Class A Public School bracket, and now Jennifer Carter's squad is setting its sights on the top dog.
The second-year Lady Eagle head coach will lead her ballclub into a second consecutive long road trip to south Georgia for a second-round series against No. 4 Seminole County in Donalsonville.
The action begins with a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday, with the if-game set for Thursday at 3 p.m.
Seeded No. 20 in the Class A bracket, Mount Zion (9-15) swept No. 13 Miller County in the first round behind an offensive explosion, resulting in 15-12 and 14-6 victories, and the Lady Indians (25-4) were on hand to watch the fireworks display sparked by the Lady Eagle bats.
"They're pretty similar to Miller County, who we just played, in a lot of ways. They're in that same region. They finished No. 1, but a lot of similarities there," Carter said. "I think their coaches were there last week scouting us out, and I think they're a little concerned about what they saw. We hit the ball very well in that series against Miller County."
Seminole County, which had a first-round bye as the Region 1-A champion, actually played Miller County three times during the regular season, going 2-1 with 11-0 and 6-2 wins and an 11-10 loss.
In the first-round sweep, Tiffany Moore cranked out four hits, while Taylor Knight had three hits, including a home run, in the opener. In Game 2, Jacey Akin led the charge with three hits, including two triples and five RBI — giving her five hits for the day with three triples and eight RBI — while Jordan Ackles was 3-for-4 with two RBI, falling just a triple shy of the cycle. Ackles also earned the victory in the circle in both games.
With the bats coming alive at the right time of the year, including connecting on several key, two-out hits last week, Carter is hoping to see that spill over into the second round.
"We're definitely coming off an emotional high for the girls. They were excited, but it's back to work [this week]," Carter said. "We'll practice for the next few days and then make a long road trip again on Wednesday."
This week's trip is pretty much a four-hour straight shot down to the southwestern corner of the state, and Carter said they'll follow a similar routine to last week's excursion.
"We started the game [at Miller County] a little bit sluggish. I think that had to do with the long road trip, but hopefully we'll get down there a little bit earlier this week and get some of that sluggishness out of us before we throw out the first pitch," Carter said.
Two years removed from their last trip to Columbus, the Lady Eagles are now two wins away from making a return trip. Carter said it would be a tremendous achievement for this group to go — especially as the highest seed still standing in the bracket at No. 20 — but she said it's one inning, one game at a time right now.
"I think it's going to be a new experience for them. They're just kind of taking it all in one step at a time here, but they're excited about making the sweet 16 and hope to make it to Columbus," Carter said.