November 23, 2020

Lady Braves exorcise region demon

Senior Shelby O'Neal had three hits in Thursday's 10-1 win over the Devilettes

Senior Shelby O’Neal had three hits in Thursday’s 10-1 win over the Devilettes

(Franklin) — Despite all of their other successes over the past few seasons, one thing the Lady Braves had been unable to do recently was to get a crucial win over the Bowdon Red Devillettes.

Coach Matt Hornsby’s squad changed all of that Thursday in the Region 5-AA home opener, downing the rivals from just up the road 10-1 after Madison Whitehead stroked a walk-off 2-run double to end the game in the sixth inning by run rule.

It was the first win for the Lady Braves over the Devilettes since 2010, and also a much-needed win after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Carrollton just 24 hours prior.

Sophomore hurler Jordan Watson continued to shine on the mound allowing only one hit and striking out five over four innings of work. Shelby O’Neal finished up in relief tossing the final two innings.

Offensively, Watson, O’Neal, and Alexis “Lucy” Raines led the way with three hits each. Whitehead, Johanna Beyer, and senior Jasmine Jacobs each had two RBI’s.

The girls were very active on the base paths stealing six bases in six attempts. Freshman Aspen Barker scored a run getting some playing time as a courtesy runner for the pitchers.

It was a big Region 5-AA opening win for the Lady Braves, who are in the middle of one of the toughest stretches of opponents they will face all season. After facing AAAA ranked Carrollton and region foe Bowdon on back to back days, the squad will now head to Kennesaw State University Saturday to do battle with AA state rivals, the Wesleyan Wolves.

The game will feature a rare match-up between the two top-ranked teams in the state. The Lady Braves will also be looking for huge revenge for the heart-crushing walk-off loss to the Wolves last season in the state tournament.

Coach Hornsby knew that the girls would have a really tough time coming back from Wednesday’s close loss to the Trojans so he pulled out a trick to relax them that he normally uses only around playoff time. The team did not go straight to the diamond Thursday after school but instead stayed in the gymnasium for a game of kickball.

“We were upset when we left Carrollton yesterday, not so much because we lost but because of the way we lost. As coaches we had to figure out a way to not let it carry over to the next day like we did last year so we decided to play kickball before the game today. We normally do it before the playoffs but we needed to do it today,” said Hornsby. “If we play like we did today we are going to be fine. We have a big matchup with Wesleyan on Saturday and I am not so concerned about us talent versus talent but I am concerned about keeping up our energy level. Hopefully, we can get another streak going. “

KSU coaches will be on hand on Saturday to evaluate lots of talent on both sides in the game featuring the #1 Lady Braves and the #2 Lady Wolves as ranked by the AJC. The game will take place at 2:00 p.m. immediately following a noon match-up between the JV squads.

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