By: By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
October 15, 2013
The teams that advance deep into the state softball playoffs usually share one common trait.
Almost without fail, they each have a lock-down, ace pitcher who is capable of going out and delivering a brilliant performance on a given day.
Fortunately for the LaGrange Lady Grangers, they happen to have one of those aces.
Senior Emily Anderson has been starting since her freshman season, and she has been one of the state’s best pitchers for four years.
Today, Anderson will once again be on the mound as LaGrange begins play in the Class AAAA state tournament against Northwest Whitfield.
Anderson figures to be up to the task.
Not only does she have four years worth of high-school softball to lean on, but she has also played travel softball at the highest level against some of the best players in the country.
“It’s easier pitching to the big hitters if you’re used to doing it,” Anderson said after Tuesday’s final practice session. “Their hitting seems to be their thing.”
Northwest, the defending state champion in Class AAAA, does have a powerful offense, but it will have its hands full with Anderson, who has had a remarkable senior season.
In 22 appearances, Anderson is 17-4 with a sparking 1.05 earned run average.
More often than not, Anderson does it with the strikeout.
In 126 innings, Anderson has 218 strikeouts, and she has only walked 22 batters.
If Anderson is her usual dominating self today, she’ll reach a milestone either in the first game or the second game.
“Hopefully I’ll get my 1,000th strikeout,” Anderson said. “I only need 13.”
Anderson stepped on to the high-school stage in 2010 and was an all-state player on a team that won a region championship and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
Anderson went 21-6 that season with a 0.86 ERA, and she has continued to put up those kinds of numbers throughout her high-school career.
While Anderson has plenty of individual accolades, including two all-state selections, she hasn’t experienced a whole lot of state success.
LaGrange won one state-playoff series in 2010, but it was eliminated in the second round.
The past two seasons, LaGrange has been knocked off in the first round.
Will this year be different?
It won’t be easy, since LaGrange has to take on the defending state champions in the first round.
Anderson, who plans on playing softball at Georgia Tech, believes if the Lady Grangers survive the first-round series, then they should be able to go far.
“I think if we beat them, we can probably make it to Columbus (for the final eight),” Anderson said. “This is our biggest challenge.”