November 27, 2020

Freshman pitcher leads Lady Braves past Central

(Carrollton, GA) — The Lady Braves continued to shine on the softball diamond as they picked up a 5-1 road win over Central of Carrollton — Class AAAA’s No. 5 ranked team in the state according to the AJC’s preseason poll.

The Heard County girls are ranked at No. 6 in Class AA in the same AJC poll but are likely to move up the rankings later this week after reeling off four straight wins to open the season.

LilyRae Fulford on the mound Tuesday at Central (Photo: Tammy Bailey)

It was another strong performance by freshman pitcher LilyRae Fulford and a big top half of the sixth inning from the offense that led to the 5-1 result.

Fulford was again on her game as she pitched all seven innings to notch her fourth straight win in her fourth career start.

She scattered six hits and struck out two with her lone big mistake resulting in a solo homer by Central’s junior Ava Tyson in the bottom of the fourth.

Fulford has been extremely efficient and again needed just 77 pitches to get through her second complete game. The freshman has yet to walk a batter this season.

The five run top half of the sixth began with a single and a stolen base by Janiyah Strong and a free pass to Mackenzie White that set the table for senior outfielder Beth Taylor’s run-scoring base hit to tie the game at 1-1.

The next Lady Brave hitter, junior Courtney Cannon, laid down a perfect squeeze bunt for a hit and an RBI to give the visiting Lady Braves the go ahead run.

Defensive miscues from the Lions and a sacrifice fly RBI from senior Alyssa Hall would lead to three more runs for the Lady Braves to close out the scoring. Cannon and Strong each had two hits in the game.

Lady Brave head coach Matt Hornsby was pleased to get another quality win over a ranked team from a higher classification.

“Central is a very good ball club — their pitcher has taken a huge step forward and gave us a lot of trouble today,” Hornsby said after the game.

“We’ve got to make quicker adjustments at the plate. If you just look at the score it doesn’t tell the story of the game. They played better than we did except for that one inning.”

Courtney Cannon at the plate in Tuesday’s win at Central

Hornsby was pleased with some of the execution and adjustments the girls made late in the contest.

“Courtney Cannon executed for us right there in a big spot with that squeeze and overall I thought we did a good job of executing things late in the game.”

The coach says that pitching and defense were big keys as well.

“LilyRae kept us in it the whole game. She pitched her tail off and it was probably one of her best starts of the year. Her and our defense is what kept it a one run game there with six outs to go,” said Hornsby.

“It was nice to get that win even when we know we didn’t play our very best overall.

The 4-0 record is the best start to a season for the Heard County program since the 2015 Lady Braves team opened the season by winning eight straight games.

The Lady Braves travel to Villa Rica today to face another large school team in the Class AAAAA Wildcats.

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