BLOOMSBURG - Greenwood knows the situation Southern Columbia is in as the two prepare to meet in the semifinals of the PIAA Class A softball tournament.
The District 4 runner-up Tigers are making their first appearance in the state event - just a few years after Greenwood won its first District 3 title. Both schools are better known for their prowess in other sports - football for Southern; field hockey and boys basketball are the perennial tournament teams for the Wildcats. Both have played Northeast Bradford in the postseason; that's who Greenwood ousted to get to this game, and the opponent that took the district title over Southern.
There's one more thing that have in common: Only the winner gets to try for the state championship. Somebody's season is done today.
That will be known before supper - first pitch us slated for 2 p.m. today at Bloomsburg University.
Greenwood coach Troy Gantt said it doesn't matter who the team plays at this point.
"The girls understand at this stage of the season that no matter who we are playing, they are going to face a very good opponent," he said. "Southern played Northeast Bradford very tough in the District 4 championship game and we know we are going to have to play our best game to this point to advance."
IF YOU GO
* Greenwood faces Southern Columbia in a semifinal game today at 2 p.m. in Bloomsburg.
He said if there was just one piece of advice he could give his team before the game begins, it would be this: "Relax and have fun!"
The Tigers (22-3) have a strong hitting lineup led by junior shortstop Kirstin Blass and freshmen Taylor Hoffman, the designated player, both of whom have .500 averages. Blass has scored 33 runs, driven in 15 more and has nine extra-base hits. Hoffman has four homers among 18 extra-base shots, and drove in 27 runs. Third baseman Kayla Lavella hits .437 and is just behind Hoffman statistically.
Greenwood (17-5) also has a trio of hitters in the same range: Amy Heggenstaller, Salene Shaffer and A.J. Seigel. But their success has been driven by small ball, with only 30 extra-base hits for the entire roster to date.
Pitching-wise, the Wildcats challenge with Jess Heichel, who earned the No. 1 spot early in the season. Against Mallory Tomaschik of Southern, the numbers favor the Tigers' hurler - Tomaschik, a junior like Heichel, has more strikeouts (174-75), although more walks (40-8). Heichel has given up more hits (97-64), but fewer runs (30-47). Most of Heichel's runs were earned (24); only 21 of Tomaschik's were.
Gantt said one of the biggest factors driving his team's success is the camaraderie they've shared.
"The girls have really been relaxed of late and truly enjoy being around each other," he said. "We have a great group of seniors that have provided the leadership all season long that has allowed us to get to this point."
And, he said, the fact that the game is practically in the back yard of the opponent - Bloomsburg can be described as "neutral" for these two only in the sense that neither of them play here - doesn't faze him after his team stared down a quality pitcher in the quarterfinals.
"After the first inning on Thursday, the girls realized that they can play with anybody," he said. "We are not concerned about where the game is being played. We had success at Bloomsburg on Thursday and hope that returning there will continue that success."