Bill Ball doesn't dance around the issue.
He knows his Bluffton High School softball team has been less than impressive over the years when it comes time for postseason play. The perennial region champions, the Bobcats have never advanced past district play.
But Ball hopes a beefed-up schedule -- both because of changes to Region 7-AAA, with Cane Bay and Berkeley replacing North Charleston and Stall, and because of a tougher non-region slate -- has the Bobcats better prepared for the playoffs.
"We certainly have less of an excuse than we've had in the past," Ball said. "I'll put it that way."
The fifth-ranked Bobcats open the Class 3-A playoffs at home at 6 p.m. tonight against Crestwood, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AAA, and despite coming off a loss to Thomas Heyward Academy on Monday, the Bobcats feel they take some momentum into the postseason.
"I like the way we're playing right now," Ball said. "Over the last week and a half, we have really started to hit the ball."
Ball noted the 10 hits the Bobcats rapped against Rebels pitcher Ashlie Layman and the solid offensive performance of Lauren Lowell and Morganne Parker, who can wreak havoc on the bases when they're getting on base and set the table for the middle of the lineup.
"The whole group is playing pretty well," Ball said. "Our last two games, we've had eight players with hits. You've got to like that."
The Bobcats will need to keep up their hot play against Crestwood, which slipped into the playoffs in what Ball considers the most difficult region in the Lower State.
It won't get any easier in Saturday's second game, where Hartsville, the top-ranked team in Class 3-A in the preseason, likely will await if Bluffton wins its opener.
"In the Lower State, Hartsville is probably one of the five premier teams," Ball said.
And does his team also belong among that group?
"I'll tell you that on Sunday."
S.C. High School League softball playoffs
First round games
Beaufort High at White Knoll, 6 p.m.
Crestwood at Bluffton, 6 p.m.
Hilton Head High at Marlboro County, 6 p.m.
Hardeeville at Military Magnet, 6 p.m.