tom.mark@gaflnews.com



ADEL - Saturday morning the Cook High Lady Hornets softball team continues its quest to Columbus as it participates in the South Sectional Slow Pitch series at Tifton's E.B. Hamilton Complex. Cook opens the tournament series with a 12:30 contest with the Jeff Davis Lady Yellow Jackets.

The 2001 Lady Hornets are one of the strongest Cook teams in recent memory as head coach Scott Ray has led them to a 21-1 mark and an area championship.

"If we show up to play Saturday, we'll be in Columbus," Ray said during an interview Thursday.

In addition to Cook and Jeff Davis, the remaining South Sectional field includes teams from, Early County, Brantley, Vidalia, Irwin, Appling County and Randolph-Clay.

A team must win two games to advance to the final field of eight next weekend at Columbus' South Commons Complex.

Joining the Hornets in the bottom half of the bracket are the Lady Pirates of Appling who are 23-0. They face Randolph-Clay in the first round.

Ray is looking forward to a possible second round contest with Appling. "If we can make the plays and beat them, that will really help our confidence," Ray said. "If we don't win, the experience will still help us."

There is plenty of experience in the tournament as the Irwin Lady Indians have proven to be a formidable foe this season.

However, after winning state championships in 1998 and 2000, the Irwin County Lady Indians will enter the sectionals as an underdog. Irwin opens play against Vidalia at 11 a.m.

Head coach Leigh Chestnutt's team lost a strong senior class from last season and has had to play a number of underclassmen. Irwin will not be devoid of talent in tomorrow's sectionals, however. Among the players back this season are Latoya White and Morgan Cook.

A junior, White came into her own during the state finals tournament in Columbus last season, hitting four over-the-fence home runs. Cook caught the final out in last year's state title game and has been one of the senior leaders for this year's squad.

Cook is led by junior slugger Jazz Covington who was batting .695 heading into last week's area tournament. Ray also hopes that she can take advantage of the 250-foot fence at the Hamilton Complex.

Besides Irwin and Cook, the Fitzgerald Lady Hurricanes will also open play in the state sectionals tomorrow. Head coach Pam Bishop's team will play Harlem in Augusta in a first round game of the Class AAA fast-pitch sectionals.



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