Big Monday: A lot on the line tonight in prep playoffs

It's the final Monday of the high school sports schedule for the 2007-08 academic year, and it just might be the biggest.

Stratford and Hanahan begin State Championship Series in softball, and Northwood Academy plays Game 1 in the SCISA Class AAA State Championship Series.

Throw in two soccer matches with berths to the state championships on the line, and you have a massive sports Monday. Bishop England travels to Waccamaw at 6 p.m. in the Class AA-A Lower State championship, while No. 1 Wando travels to Summerville for a 7 p.m. match that will determine the Class AAAA Lower State champion.

The Stratford softball team is seeking its first state championship since 1996, when Debra Tolar's team beat Airport. The Knights returned to the championship series in 2003 and '05, but came up short.

The Knights reached the championship series with a victory over defending state champ South Florence on Friday night. The Knights were 3-0 against South Florence this spring.

Today, the Knights hit the road in search of another state title.

Tolar doesn't expect her team to let up after eliminating the defending state champion.

"Not with the chemistry of this team," Tolar said. "The players on this team have very unique personalities, and I just don't see them letting up."

Hanahan begins its quest for the Class AA title with a 6 p.m. home game against Crescent. Crescent owns a national- record 17 state championships, including three that came over the Hawks in 1987, '88 and '05.

The Hawks lost to Cheraw in the first game Friday, but advanced with a 10-4 victory in the nightcap as Ashton Jarrett went 4-for-5, and Kelly Dillon hit an inside-the-park home run.

The Northwood Academy baseball team hosts Ben Lippen at 7 p.m.

The Chargers will go with their ace, Ryan Philpott. He enters the game with a 9-1 record and a 1.44 ERA, logging 92 strikeouts in 63 1/3. Philpott leads the team with a .446 batting average. He is one of five Northwood players who are hitting .400 or better. The others are Thomas Levander, Chris Cook, Brett Bullard and Jacob Hill.

Wando, the top-ranked girls' soccer team in the state, travels to Summerville with a berth in Friday's state championship on the line.

No. 1 Wando owns a 23-1 record, while fourth-ranked Summerville is 19-4. Wando posted a 2-0 victory over the Wave in March.

No. 2 Bishop England travels to No. 1 Waccamaw in the Class AA-A Lower State soccer championship. Waccamaw already owns two victories over the Bishops this spring, and a third would halt the Bishops' streak at six straight state titles.

Reach Philip M. Bowman at pbowman@postandcourier or 937-5592.