November 27, 2020

Dinger Damage! Beyer, Shelnutt power Lady Braves over Cougars

(Franklin) — The juggernaut Lady Braves softball team returned home for the first time this season Monday where they played host to the neighboring Newnan Lady Cougars from Class AAAAAA.

A large crowd of fans would not be disappointed with the Lady Braves battling back from an early 4-1 deficit to defeat the Cougars 6-4 and extend the longest winning streak in school history to 18 straight games.

The Lady Cougars put up a strong fight offensively banging out nine hits and plating four earned runs off of Jordan Watson in the first two innings, the most allowed by Watson in almost a full calendar year.

However, the power of the Lady Braves (8-0) would be the story in this game with seniors Johanna Beyer and Anna Shelnutt each smashing two long balls.

Beyer’s long bombs came in the first with nobody on base and in the third with one runner on. The two dingers were the fifth and sixth on the season for the center fielder with only eight games in the books so far. The senior is off to one of the hottest starts in the state of Georgia this season.

“Johanna is progressing as a hitter faster than anybody I have ever seen in high school,” said coach Matt Hornsby after the comeback win. “As far as it has finally clicked and now she is understanding what she needs to do with her swing mechanically and knowing what she is looking for as far as pitch selection. She is doing a heck of a job up there in that lead-off spot right now.”

Senior Anna Shelnutt blasted two homers in Monday's 6-4 varsity win over Newnan

Senior Anna Shelnutt blasted two homers in Monday’s 6-4 varsity win over Newnan

The Cougars refused to pitch to Beyer in her third at-bat setting the table for Shelnutt to launch the game winning two-run blast. Shelnutt’s third HR of the season scored the game-winning runs.

Hornsby was pleased to see his girls fight back from the early deficit. “That was not how we expected the game to start off, but you know it is good that it did — you play a lot of these bigger and better schools so hopefully they expose some of your weaknesses — but you know the bottom line is our girls buckled down and did what they should.”

After a rocky start on the hill, Watson settled down to shut out the Cougars from the third inning on. Watson finished with five strikeouts and only one walk on the day.

“We set a lot of goals before the season and one of them is from the fifth inning on nobody scores — when we have a lead in the fifth inning nobody scores the rest of the game — and we did a great job with that,” said Hornsby. “We got down early but didn’t panic — we chipped away and got some people on and then we got some balls out of the park. The girls getting on base ahead of our big hits was the key today”

The Braves had eight hits on the day including singles by Watson, Alexis Raines, Madison Whitehead, and Hannah Sanders in addition to the four homers.

Hornsby was impressed with the Cougar batting line-up.

“They (the Cougars) hit some balls hard, especially the top half of their lineup, they have some hitters that know their game as far as knowing what to do to get on — bunting, slapping, hitting for power,” Hornsby stated.

“Jordan did a good job of remembering what they did last at bat and making adjustments. Sometimes we overlook what Anna and Jordan do as far as making adjustments on the mound and behind the plate but it really shows up in a game like we played today.”

The Lady Braves will next hit the road this weekend for the Allatoona Tournament. The challenge of keeping the inning streak alive will be daunting as the girls will take on some of the very best competition in the state at the two day tourney.

They will take on Cherokee High School (Class AAAAAA/ 6:45 pm) and Ridgeland High School (Class AAAAA/ 8:30 pm) at Cherokee High School on Friday and will then be at Lassiter High School in Marietta on Saturday where they will battle River Ridge (Class AAAA/ 1:30 pm) and Calhoun (Class AAA/ 5:30 pm).

Perhaps the most compelling match-up will be Saturday’s tilt versus Calhoun, a former Class AA foe who eliminated the Lady Braves at state two seasons ago.

In JV action, the Lady Braves defeated the Cougars 2-1 on a walk-off hit by freshman shortstop Haley Bennett in the bottom of the fifth inning. The JV Lady Braves also remain undefeated on the season.

A huge key to the success of the Lady braves has been the pitching of eighth-grader Katelyn Jiles. Jiles has pitched well all season especially in the late innings.


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