2013 Lady Braves 3rd Place in AA. Front Row (L-R): Candace Ray, Shelby O’Neal, Aspen Barker, Shemeka Parks, Madison Whitehead, Brittany Sims, Jasmine Jacobs. Back Row (L-R): Coach Kelly Hadley, Anna Shelnutt, Coach Ryan Duffey, Hannah Stephens, Alexis Raines, Shea Person, Johanna Beyer, Hattie Yarbrough, Jordan Watson, Cali Harrod, Ashlyn Summerlin, Coach Trent Bianco, Head Coach Matt Hornsby
(Columbus, GA) — The Lady Braves softball team was undoubtedly very disappointed Saturday in Columbus as they once again came very close before being eliminated from the State Championship tournament in a 2-0 loss to the Harlem Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were then relegated to second place after falling 7-0 to the Lady Yellow Jackets of Calhoun, the 2013 AA State Champions.
After an exciting first day of action where the Lady Braves knocked off Cook County 5-4 and the defending champion Dade County Wolverines in an epic 1-0 tilt, the team was never able to find anymore offense dropping a 3-1 decision to Calhoun in the finals of the winner’s bracket Friday night before being shut out by the Bulldogs in the third place Saturday morning.
“Our girls have a lot to be proud of this weekend,” said head coach Matt Hornsby. “We were down in the first game and could easily have given up but we came back and then we beat the defending state champs and probably the best pitcher we have faced all year. In these last two games our bats just went silent but our girls just kept battling. I can’t say enough how proud I am of our team and especially our senior class.”
After the Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first in Saturday’s game, the Lady Braves had runners in scoring position several times but were unable to deliver the big hit.
Lady luck was also not on the side of the girls as Cali Harrod was thrown out at the plate in a very close play trying to score on a passed ball and a long fly by Johanna Beyer to deep centerfield later in the game was caught right at the fence.
The Lady Braves continued to play well defensively including right fielder Alexis Raines who laid out for a fly ball in the top of the third inning. Freshman first baseman Hannah Stephens also made a great play in the top of the seventh to rob a Bulldog double and keep the Lady Braves in striking distance.
Overall it was an exciting weekend of softball and an amazing season by the Lady Braves who return the core of their line-up and should be a favorite to win the title again next year.
Returning starters to next season’s line-up are pitcher Jordan Watson, who led the way on the hill this season finishing with a 19-3 record, a 1.61 ERA, and 135 strikeouts in only 123 innings pitched during the regular season. Watson was also a force at the plate where she batted .556 with four homers and a team leading 31 RBI’s.
Anna Shelnutt led the team in hitting with a .577 batting average with two home runs, 24 RBI’s, and a team leading 14 doubles, while Cali Harrod impressed with a .563 average, eight homers, 27 RBI’s, 42 runs scored, and a phenomenal 33 stolen bases. Alexis Raines, Madison Whitehead, Johanna Beyer, and Hannah Stephens also return to starting positions.
The team does graduates five important seniors who will definitely be missed including starting catcher Jasmine Jacobs, starting second baseman and relief pitcher Shelby O’Neal, and outfielders Shemeka Parks, Shea Person, Ashlyn Summerlin, and Candace Ray.
The team finishes with a 29-6 record and many very impressive wins including a 9-4 record versus all teams that made it to Columbus in all classes. The girls also scored 16 wins over ranked opponents during the season.