The Warriors’ long postseason drought will come to an end this year after they finished sixth in Region 6AAAAA and earned a spot in its tournament, which begins Thursday.
North Atlanta, which was 10-9 overall and 5-6 in 6AAAAA going into last Friday’s regular-season finale against Galloway, will be the sixth seed and will travel to Southwest DeKalb for a play-in game Thursday.
It will be the first region tournament appearance for the Warriors since 2008, which was also the last time they qualified for the state playoffs.
With its 10 wins, North Atlanta has doubled its victory total from a year ago, when it posted a 5-15 record.
The Warriors accomplished this with a young and inexperienced roster that features eight freshmen and with only three returning starters from a year ago.
North Atlanta coach Lisa Oglesby is impressed with how her young squad has gelled together as a unit, though she said there is plenty of room for improvement.
“Basically, they seem to be working together really well,” Oglesby said. “They’re young ladies. But, slowly over the season, their individual play has improved. They’ve bonded as a team and they’ve played really well as a unit. We still have to work hard on reducing our errors, which has a lot to do with this being a young team.
“Reducing errors and improving their hitting precision are the most important things for us.”
For Oglesby, North Atlanta’s breakthrough season in 2013 is only the first step in a rebuilding process that she is confident will lead the Warriors to bigger and better things in the future.
“I really believe we’re building a very strong program here at North Atlanta,” she said. “We’re got extremely dedicated parents and with them and the focus of the coaching staff, I believe the program will continue to grow.”
Junior pitcher Ally Bellavia has led the way on the mound, while freshman third baseman Sara Beth Cimowsky, sophomore second baseman Paris Powell and junior catcher Hannah Wallis have also played key roles in the Warriors’ resurgence.
A top-four finish in the 6AAAAA tournament would guarantee North Atlanta its first state playoff berth in five years, a goal which Oglesby said is realistic.
“I’m always positive,” she said. “I have no doubt that the girls can do it, absolutely no doubt. A lot of it is overcoming some of the immaturity. When I say immaturity, I mean the lack of years of playing. Overcoming that and overcoming those errors [on the field] is going to be our biggest challenge. If they can overcome their mistakes — having amnesia about a mistake and getting over it for the next play — those are some of the things that they have to mature on. But I have no doubt that this team can progress on to state this year.”