Sure, they aren’t in the same classification anymore. And no, the result won’t matter nearly as much as the last time they played.
But it will still be a fun one to watch.
Rematches are always a great start to a season, and the 2012 softball season fits the mold when Northwest Whitfield gets an opportunity to avenge last year’s season-ending loss to Whitewater.
Practices started last week, and games are on the horizon. In fact, Friday marks the first official day softball and volleyball teams can play games this fall. Aside from scrimmages that don’t figure into the record, Friday will be the first test for local teams.
Not all local coaches have submitted schedules, but some are in and some teams are getting off to a fast start.
On the softball side, the game of the night will be a rematch from last season’s Class 4A state playoffs. Northwest, which remains in 4A, lost 7-5 to Whitewater in a loser-goes-home matchup. Whitewater, who moves up to Class 5A this year with the GHSA’s new six-class format, was the state runner-up in 2011.
It will take place at Whitewater beginning at 7 p.m. The Lady Bruins are in Sub-region 7B-4A with Dalton and Southeast after going 10-1 in Region 7-4A last season and 29-9 overall. Northwest, being a strong team last year, is certainly one of the favorites in the region for 2012. Facing an old foe with a recent résumé of success might paint a better picture of how this team stacks up, not just compared to local squads, but against the whole state.
It will also mark the coaching debut of Jason Brooker, who takes over the program from Shane Ramsey. Ramsey stepped down in May “to spend more time with my family and boys.” He went 70-37 in three years with a pair of top-four finishes in the state tournament. Brooker is a 1994 Northwest graduate who is making his head coaching debut.
Murray County, Southeast and Dalton all will be at the Model Invitational Friday and Saturday. According to ga.prepcountry.com, the Lady Indians play a three-game set of LaFayette, Chattooga and Adairsville to start the year. Southeast has a new coach in Kelley Barton and will play Trion. The Lady Catamounts, which reached the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, will face Woodland-Bartow.
North Murray kicks off its season at Cartersville Saturday at 11 a.m.
No local volleyball teams play this week, according to the website. As a reminder to the area’s athletic directors and coaches, please email schedules for the fall as soon as possible so area fans can keep up with the schedules in our pages and on our website. Send those schedules to email@example.com.
Here is a look at what else is going on this week as Whitfield County and Dalton schools head back to the classroom.
• Continuing with the two sports, this week The Daily Citizen will publish its local volleyball and softball previews in the sports section. The stories will give a good overview of each team’s 2011 season, returning players and expectations heading into a new season with new leagues.
• Did you know the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons are coming to the area? If you missed the big news, it is not be too late to plan an afternoon pro football excursion. The Titans and Falcons are holding a joint practice today at Coahulla Creek starting at 4:30 p.m. Gates open at 3:30. It is being billed as “Falcons Football Night in Dalton” on the Falcons’ website (www.atlantafalcons.com). Even though the practice is free and open to the public, the athletic programs at Coahulla Creek, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield will split revenues from concessions with an estimated crowd of 6,000 to 10,000 expected. There also will be a ticket deal for Falcons fans wishing to make the trip to Atlanta one Sunday this season. The Falcons are allowing Whitfield County Schools to offer tickets against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 30 and the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 14. Tickets are available for $10 off of upper end zone seats and $18 off of upper sideline seating. Individual tickets will be sold for those two games at $45 for end zone and $67 for sideline with the schools getting $10 from each ticket sold.
• The first football game of the 2012 regular season is still 18 days away, and it is moving at a snail’s pace for me, someone who is excited to see Dalton and Ringgold start things off in Northwest Georgia. However, if you have an itch leftover from the seven-on-seven tournaments and first practice days, there will be a couple local football teams scrimmaging this week — one against another school and one against itself. Coahulla Creek, which will compete in its first varsity schedule in 2012, will host Tennessee’s Notre Dame High on Tuesday. North Murray’s black and gold scrimmage will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the school. Admission is $2.
• Dalton State College, in partnership with Dalton Parks and Recreation, is hosting a seven-man flag football tournament Saturday called the Roadrunner Rumble. The event, in its first year, will begin at 9 a.m. at the Ronald R. Nix Complex at James Brown Park. Funds raised will benefit Dalton State athletics. Cost is $225 per team, with a three-game guarantee. If you’re interested in the event and want to know more, check out the Local Sports Calendar on page 4B.
Devin Golden is a sports writer at The Daily Citizen, and he loves rematches and revenge-type games to start seasons. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.