Carlisle’s softball team is in the regional tournament for the first time in six years, and the Lady Bison are one win away from returning to the Class 2A State Tournament — also for the first time in six years.

Lonnie Roberson’s fourth Lady Bison squad (10-14), the fourth seed from the 3-2A, must beat Salem, first from the 2-2A, to advance to next week’s Class 2A State Tournament. The teams will play at 10 a.m. Thursday in Palestine-Wheatley.

“They weren’t the conference winner but they won it out in the district tournament,” Roberson said of the Lady Greyhounds (22-2). “They’ve got a couple of slappers, and I know one of their girls (junior Erin Cameron) is their hitter. Other than that, they don’t really hit it deep.”

A winnable game?

“Oh, no doubt,” Roberson said.

The Carlisle-Salem winner will move on to Friday’s noon semifinal against the survivor of McCrory, second from the 3, and East Poinsett County, third from the 2.

The bottom half of the bracket includes Hazen, first from the 3, against Cotter, fourth from the 2; and Marmaduke, second from the 2, against Palestine-Wheatley, third from the 3.

The championship is set for 2:30 p.m. with the third-place game at noon.

“The majority of our losses are to good teams,” Roberson said. “We’re not going out and losing to middle-of-the-road teams. We’ve lost to Pangburn, one of the top teams in (Class) 2A; to DeWitt, a top-10 team in (Class) 4A, to Stuttgart twice, to Star City. McCrory and Hazen are tops in our conference.

“But we’re just as good as they are. We’ve got some quality wins over some other quality teams. Especially for us, if we get a little momentum, we’re hard to handle.”

To qualify for the regional, Carlisle beat Cross County in the opening round of the 3-2A District Tournament last week, 6-3. The Lady Bison broke open a scoreless game with a three-run third inning and made it 5-0 after five.

In the semifinals, the Lady Bison fell to Hazen for the third time this season, 8-1. The Lady Hornets jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first and second innings to set the tone. They finished with eight hits and no errors; Carlisle had one run, two hits and three errors.

The Lady Bison put four players on the all-conference squad (senior pitcher Maggie McCallie, senior shortstop Ashby Terry, senior first baseman Journey Jennings and sophomore outfielder Heather Bowlan). Freshman center fielder Ansley Terry was named honorable mention all-conference.

“We’ve got a good senior class, the biggest senior class I’ve ever had — five plus two managers,” Roberson said. “Other than those, I’ve only ever had one senior graduate.”