High School Softball Wins Trio of Games to Seal Third Consecutive Region Title
By Keich Whicker – The Union-Recorder
The celebration that erupted at Couch Field after Georgia Military College\’s softball team recorded the decisive out in the region 7-A tournament final probably seemed familiar to many involved in it, but it didn\’t seem to damper their enthusiasm.
\”We did what we had to do and put a period on it with that last game there,\” said GMC head softball coach Garry Couch about his team\’s 13-1 win over Washington-Wilkes – a team that had given the Lady Bulldogs a scare earlier in the day.
After struggling through the opening innings, GMC\’s offense woke up and exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Lady Tigers to wrap up its third consecutive region title and ensure a high seed at the sectionals tournament next weekend in Lovejoy.
Joanna Griffin went 2-for-2 with a RBI, Kendall Castillo went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Kasey Durden went 2-for-3 with a RBI to lead the Lady Bulldogs at the plate, while Amanda Hall (5-1) struck out four on her way to capturing the win on the mound.
\”We hit the ball well all day long, we just hit it right at people,\” Couch said. \”This last game, we just turned it on. We did a lot of things well.\”
GMC opened the defense of its region title with a 16-1 blowout over Glascock County in the morning at Couch Field.
Griffin went 3-for-4, Hall went 3-for-3 with a home run and Karey Harris went 2-for-3 with two RBIs to lead GMC\’s offense, with Durden (7-1) retiring eight batters on her way to picking up the win on the rubber.
After breezing through its opening fixture, GMC\’s positive start to the tournament stalled midday when it was first matched up against Washington-Wilkes and barely scraped past them with a 3-2 win.
\”They (Washington-Wilkes) came out fired up and were making plays they hadn\’t made all year,\” Couch said. \”They fancied their chances against us, but where we get into problems was when we started making mistakes. In the first inning against Washington-Wilkes, we committed five errors and gave up a couple of runs to fall behind.\”
The potent bats GMC wielded against Glascock cooled off substantially in the downtime between games, as the Lady Bulldogs managed just four hits in their first encounter with Washington-Wilkes.
\”We hit the ball hard, but we were hitting it right at them,\” Couch said, with a shake of the head. \”The difference in the game was after the first inning. Kendall (Castillo) shut them down.\”
Castillo (11-2) struck out five in her winning effort, while Griffin went 1-for-2, Hall went 2-for-3 and Heather Hamby went 1-3 with a RBI for GMC at the plate.
The Lady Bulldogs\’ bats didn\’t look much better in the early going of the two teams\’ rematch in the region final, either. But after collecting a run off a Haley Holloway sacrifice fly and another pair of runs off two wild pitches, GMC\’s hitters finally began to find their swing again in the bottom of the third inning, when the Lady Bulldogs posted two runs off two hits to climb ahead 5-1.
Once out in front, the Lady Bulldogs never looked back and claimed their third region plaque in as many years after a blitz of offense in their next turn at the plate.
GMC now heads to Lovejoy, where it will try to book itself a spot in the state finals by emerging from the sectionals tournament.
\”I\’ve given them the rest of the week off,\” Couch said, moments before two of his seniors tried to douse him with the contents of a Gatorade cooler. \”Then we\’ll come back next week and work hard on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday we\’ll go light and then we\’ll head to Lovejoy on Friday. The main thing is that we don\’t look past anyone. We\’ve got to play one game at a time.\”
Whatever happens at sectionals, Couch is already pleased with the success his team has achieved in recent seasons.
\”Overall, these kids have played well for four years,\” he said. \”They\’ve been undefeated at home for three years. That says a lot about them right there. The kids are the program. There are coaches out there working with them, but the players make the plays. They make the coaches look good.\”
To reach sports writer Keich Whicker, call him at (478) 453-1465.
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