Petrolia Preparing for Top-5 Matchup with Albany

The No. 2 Petrolia Lady Pirates find themselves in a familiar situation as the team prepares for a Region I-A Final against No. 3 Albany.

Petrolia will take the field of its fifth regional final in the last nine years, but that's where Lady Pirates success ends. The team has lost its previous four regional final games with three losses to eventual state champions, including last year against Forsan.

"We have a lot of people returning from last year. We all know how it felt to get so close and not make it," senior third baseman Kenzie Payne said.

Senior center fielder Savannah Parker is well aware of Petrolia's history in regional final games.

"Four times, just getting that close and not making your goal is frustrating," she said.

Both players and coaches say this year's Petrolia team is much stronger at the plate than last year. The Lady Pirates have displayed the bats in the postseason, scoring double-digit runs in three of four games. Petrolia scored nine runs in its lone other game.

"Now, it just seems easier because we have our bats going and our defense," Payne said. "We get base hits and score, where other teams bunt and stuff. For us, it's base hit and score, base hit and score."

Parker says she thinks the balance of Petrolia's lineup gives the Lady Pirates the edge over the Lady Lions.

"We bat all the way through our lineup. We are a well-rounded team," Parker said. "If we come to play, we should win and head to the state tournament."

Head coach DeDe Gray gives all the credit to her players about the improvement at the plate. She says her players motivate themselves, working hard to improve all season long.

As the players keep their own motivations in mind, one tends to stand out.

"We're going to win it for those teams who've been here, for teams in the past," Parker said. "We're going to win it for our town. This is our year."

But for seniors like Payne and Parker, they're also playing to keep their high school careers alive.

"I just like to go out with a bang," Payne said. "If we make it this year, it would be an awesome way to end my four years of high school."