The arrival of postseason play can cause many coaches to overthink and agonize every detail about their opponent. For Stephen Mitchell and his squad, it's been standard operating procedure.
The first-year Bowdon High School head softball coach is set to lead the No. 10 Red Devilettes into a second-round road series in the Class A Public School state playoffs at No. 7 Baconton Charter in a 4 p.m. twin bill today in Baconton. The if-game is slated for 3 p.m. on Thursday.
The load has been light for Mitchell's squad since rushing past McIntosh County Academy in the opening round last week. After taking Friday off, the Red Devilettes (23-8) returned to the field on Monday and Tuesday to shore up fundamentals they've worked on all season before the big showdown in Baconton.
For Mitchell, it's not so much about the opponent as much as it's about executing what you have been doing for the entire season.
"You can scout when the playoffs come around, but you never fully know what you'll be going up against," Mitchell said. "We've gathered some information on them, but we're really just focused on us and trying to make sure that we're ready for the task at hand."
The task of going on the road in the postseason will be a challenge for Bowdon as Baconton Charter (21-5) earned a first-round bye and is making its second consecutive postseason appearance under head coach Bubber Birdsong.
From the intel that Mitchell was able to get on his opponent, the Lady Blazers strike a similarity to several teams Bowdon has seen this year.
"They've got a pretty good pitcher who can throw in the mid-50's and spin the ball well, similar to a lot of pitchers we've faced in our region. They hit the ball pretty well up and down the lineup and play pretty solid defense. They're a second-round team who got a first-round bye, so they have to be pretty good," Mitchell said.
The Red Devilettes will once again lean on the duo of pitchers Macy Bearden and Treasure Shaw, who were forces in the circle and the batter's box last week in their first-round sweep. Their head coach indicated that he won't know who'll make the start for Game 1 until 4 p.m. rolls around.
"It'll be a game-time decision. We really don't know," Mitchell said. "It just depends on how we match up with what they're doing. I just know that both of them are super reliable and will be ready for us when need be."
To stay loose on its trip south, the team will stop at Brookstone High School in Columbus for a quick batting practice before continuing to Baconton.