For the third time in five years, the Summerville High softball program will play for the Class AAAA state championship when it begins a best-of-three championship series against Clover High on Monday in a 6 p.m. home game.
Summerville’s previous two attempts at winning a title — 2011 and 2013 — came up short, but coach Heather Tucker is hoping the third time in the finals is the charm.
“I would like to think that the experience that some of our players have of playing two years ago will help us but that’s not really something we think about,” said Tucker, who played on Stratford High’s 1996 state championship team. “All we focus on right now is playing on Monday and hoping that we continue to play as well as we have all season.”
Summerville (29-3) faced early elimination in the District VIII four-team tournament, falling to River Bluff in their second game.
The Green Wave, however, have not lost a playoff game since, winning three straight games to win the district title and advancing through the Lower State final four bracket with three consecutive wins.
“I’d like to think we are peaking, and certainly we are playing with more confidence than we have all year,” said Tucker. “As much as we can, we’re trying to take this game as just another game. There is more emphasis on these games now, but all we are trying to do is continue to play good defense and get some timely hits.”
Upper State champion Clover (21-10) is somewhat of a surprise finalist. The Blue Eagles failed to win their region championship but have won all six postseason games to reach the finals.
Both teams are solid in the circle with Summerville’s Summer Jenkins and Clover’s Elizabeth Edmunds shouldering heavy loads. Both teams played in the Azalea Invitational spring break tournament in April but did not play each other. Tucker, however, has a good idea of what to expect from the Blue Eagles.
“We know they’re pretty good to be this far and we certainly have a lot of respect for them,” said Tucker. “I was able to see them a little in the tournament but really not that much. Had I known we would be playing them this week, I would have paid more attention. What I know is they have good players and they are well-coached. They are peaking at the right time, and it should be a good series.”