Billingsley softball prepares for third straight state tournament

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Casey Headley (No. 16) and Kelsie Elrod celebrate a victory against Jemison on April 19. (File Photo)

Casey Headley (No. 16) and Kelsie Elrod celebrate a victory against Jemison on April 19. (File Photo)

For the third straight year, Billingsley will play in the Class 1A State Softball Tournament, which begins Wednesday.

“They seem to be pretty focused,” Billingsley head coach J.T. Lawrence said. “If they’re nervous, they haven’t shown it. It’s a different feel this year than the past two.”

Billingsley advanced to the state tournament for the first time in 2014 and then again in 2015.

Both times, the Bears won the first game but followed it up with consecutive loses and were eliminated from contention in the double-elimination format.

Billingsley will open this year’s tournament against Decatur Heritage at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

Regardless of the result, the Bears will play their second game at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday against either Ragland or Kinston.

Eight of the 13 girls that make up the team have previous state tournament experience.

“I’ve been blessed with a great group of girls over the last couple of years,” Lawrence said. “We’ve tried not to focus on the expectations. They’ve been around the game, and they understand what it takes.”

Billingsley has cruised past each opponent in the postseason so far. The Bears have beaten Victory Christian, Wadley and Jefferson Christian by an average of 15 runs per game.

“There are so many things that have to go right in order to make it to state,” Lawrence said.

According to Lawrence, the Bears have experienced their share of adversity after the batting order had to overcome a mid-season slump at the plate.

“We’ve slowly started to climb out of that slump,” Lawrence said. “We’re seeing the ball well and not having to rely too much on any one person for offense.”