WOODSTOCK - When faced with a challenge, Etowah coach Victoria Carter saw it as an opportunity.

After a sweep of Campbell in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs, Etowah was looking at going on the road to face No. 2-ranked North Gwinnett, a team that had only one loss entering the playoffs. Instead, the Lady Eagles swept the Lady Bulldogs to advance to the state tournament in Columbus.

Etowah did so behind a simple yet effective mindset.

“We had preached living in the moment and not fearing the moment, and there were girls who were really taking every experience and living in the little things,” Carter said. “I think that’s one thing we were able to do this year is to appreciate the moment.”

Etowah won three games in Columbus and advanced within one game of the state championship. The Lady Eagles ultimately finished third in Class AAAAAAA -- the second-best finish in program history -- and for helping lead her team to the brink of the state championship game, Carter is the 2019 Cherokee Tribune Softball Coach of the Year.

“With our county, it's obviously a huge honor,” Carter said. “We had three teams make it down to Columbus, and the teams who didn’t make it were in the playoffs and fighting for a spot. With such a softball-rich area, it's obviously a huge honor, and I attribute it to my players, my assistant coaches and the support staff we have at Etowah.”

Etowah’s state playoff run was nothing short of impressive.

After winning their first game in Columbus, the Lady Eagles fell to eventual runner-up Grayson and were faced with working their way back through the consolation bracket.

Brown said she relied on personal experience to help her team.

“Part of it is getting the kids to understand, you’re never out of it,” Carter said. “When I won in 2006 (as a player) with Sequoyah, we lost that very first game in Columbus and ended up working our way all the way back. I think having that experience and being able to relate it to the girls helped them. They wanted to compete, and when we found out we were playing Grayson a second time, they wanted that chance to get back and prove themselves.”

After getting past the emotion of ending short of the championship, the season has taken a bit a of new perspective for Carter.

“I think that’s one thing we were able to do this year, is to appreciate the moment, even though it obviously didn’t end as well as we wanted," Carter said. "We were able to appreciate all the work the girls had put in to get us to that point. I don’t think it was a disappointing season at all. I was extremely proud of them for getting to that point when no one really thought we could. They always believed in each other to get the job done.”

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