Bill Ball sees no sense of urgency in his Bluffton High School softball team. That's saying something, considering the always-consistent Bobcats have lost three straight games heading into postseason play tonight.
"They don't seem worried," he said. "As a coach, you wish they were a little bit more anxious right now. But they've been together a long time. A lot of these kids have played together since they were 10, 11 years old. They're confident in each other."
The Bobcats have been snakebit of late, as ill-timed errors and unusual circumstances have cost Bluffton (16-4) over the last week. They don't anticipate any of that carrying over to tonight, however, when Ball's team hosts Stratford at 6:30 p.m. in the opening-round of the Class 4-A District VI playoffs.
Bluffton is one of four area softball teams that begin postseason play this week. Four more baseball teams also begin their playoff push starting over the next two days, starting with Wando's visit to Beaufort High (13-8) tonight at 7 p.m in the Class 4-A District VI opener.
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"I know they're kind of thinking the last couple games have been a bizarre mix of circumstances," Ball said. "If we can just get back on track, it's going to be no problem. We can take care of business."
The Bobcats were outscored 14-5 over their final three games, yet gave up just three hits combined in those defeats. They still had a shot at the Region 8-AAAA title, too, but lost out when Summerville won an appeal in a defeat to Fort Dorchester, only to reclaim the victory in the makeup game Tuesday.
All that means little to Bluffton, though, which is attempting to make up for last season's surprising defeat in the District VII playoffs.
Hilton Head Island High, Battery Creek and Ridgeland-Hardeeville round out the area softball teams in contention for a state title. The Dolphins host Edisto in the Class 2-A District V opener tonight at 6 p.m. while the Jaguars and Seahawks will hit the road over the next two nights.
Hilton Head High highlights the trio of baseball teams beginning postseason play, as it hosts Brookland-Cayce on Friday at 7 p.m in the Class 3-A District VII bracket. The Seahawks nipped Berkeley, 1-0, last Thursday only to lose out on the Region 8-AAA title on tiebreakers. Had interim coach Blair Carson's team not been forced to forfeit a 6-1 triumph over Beaufort High due to S.C. High School League violations, Hilton Head High's road to the state title would have been much easier.
Now the Seahawks (15-4) draw the Bearcats and, should they win, will likely await a matchup with St. James and College of Charleston pitching recruit Anders DeShields on Monday. Freshman Mat Clark will try to get Hilton Head High to that game, as the southpaw will earn the start Friday against Brookland-Cayce, Carson said.
"I told the guys they did what they could do when it comes to on-the-field stuff," Carson said. "That's just the card we were dealt. At the end of the day that's what happens."
"We still don't have any excuses on how we play," he added. " ... Although we're a two-seed, we've still got to play our game and hopefully at the end of the day that will be the best thing."
Battery Creek and Whale Branch Early College High School round out the Lowcountry's postseason baseball teams. The Dolphins travel to Barnwell tonight in Class 2-A District VI action while the Warriors (8-7) welcome Cross at 5 p.m. in the Class 1-A District VIII opener.
The winner of that game will travel to face Latta, who has a first-round bye, on Saturday.
2013 HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL/BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Stratford at Bluffton (District VI), tonight, 6:30 p.m.
Wando 5, Beaufort High 0 -- Wednesday
Hilton Head Island High at Gilbert (District V), Friday, 6 p.m.
Edisto at Battery Creek (District V), tonight, 6 p.m.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville at Barnwell (District V), tonight
Wando at Beaufort High (District VI), tonight, 7 p.m.
Brookland-Cayce at Hilton Head Island High (District VII), Friday, 7 p.m.
Battery Creek at Barnwell (District VI), tonight, 6 p.m.
Cross at Whale Branch Early College High School (District VIII), tonight, 5 p.m.