The practice of doing a region tournament – and the minor headaches that accompany it – has followed Forsyth Central head softball coach Paul Cromie from job to job.
In Region 5-7A, the one with all the county schools, the practice used to be just playing 15 games and picking the top seeds from the results there. When Paul Cromie was an assistant at North Gwinnett, which itself played a tournament in Region 6-6A, he saw the 15-game schedule as a better option.
But Region 5-7A went to the tournament model this year, and Cromie’s old peers have gone to a full slate. And while his current Bulldogs won on Thursday, topping South Forsyth 4-0, Cromie had to face the drawbacks and limitations of his current system.
“(The team) knew there was an outside chance (of this happening),” Cromie said. “They also know that we get what we deserve. Karma serves you what you deserve – you don’t have a menu to choose from.”
Central’s win put both the Bulldogs’ and South’s region record at 6-4. North Forsyth beat West Forsyth earlier in the evening, giving the Raiders a 7-3 mark and the lone claim to the No. 1 seed.
The tiebreakers for the region tournament fell as follows: Central and South were 1-1 against each other; they were also both 1-1 against the Raiders; but while the War Eagles finished 1-1 against No. 4 seed West, Central had two losses against the Wolverines, giving South the claim to the No. 2 seed.
The War Eagles and Raiders are set to face off in a three-game series to determine the region champion and No. 1 playoff seed, but both teams will host a state playoff series. The rest of the region’s teams will face off in a double-elimination format to determine the No. 3 and 4 seeds for the state playoffs. The region tournament is set to start on Oct. 1 at North Forsyth.
Cromie’s mood wasn’t exactly joyous as he gathered with Central athletic director Dan Kaplan and principal Mitch Young on the field after the game to go over the Bulldogs’ scenario, but he reflected fondly on the result of the Bulldogs’ senior night game.
Junior lefthander Bailey McCachren threw a three-hit shutout with nine strikeouts, and senior center fielder Sadie Waters hit a two-run home run to left that broke up two-and-a-half innings of scoreless action to start the game.
“I was just looking to hit it hard somewhere,” Waters said. “And then I just got a hold of it, and it went.”
Those signs gave Cromie a sense of optimism about his team’s path, even if the evening’s other results weren’t as kind as they could have been to Central.
“I think that we’re moving towards really hitting our stride (now), which is the time of the season you want to do it,” Cromie said.