2012 Lady Braves (3rd in State)
Front Row(L-R): Jasmine Cook, Alyssa Bishop, Tiffany Smith 2nd Row (L-R): Johanna Beyer, Anna Shelnutt, Jordan Watson, Camry Brice, Jasmine Jacobs, Alexis Raines Back Row (L-R): Coach Kelly Hadley, Coach Valerie Williams, Cali Harrod, Brittany Sims, Madison Whitehead, Shea Person, Whitney Crider, Ashlyn Summerlin, Candace Ray, Shemeka Parks, Head Coach Matt Hornsby.
The Lady Braves softball team experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during a thirty minute span Saturday at the State Championship Tournament in Columbus.
After going 3-1 during the first two days of the tourney which began Thursday, the Braves (5-AA) matched up once again with Wesleyan, the same team who sent them to the loser’s bracket of the double elimination tournament on Thursday night defeating the Braves 9-3.
The highly touted Wolves (6-AA) had been upset by on Friday night by the unranked Dade County Wolverines (7-AA).
In Saturday’s game to determine who would advance to the state championship versus Dade, the Wolves jumped out early to a 5-1 lead with the lone Brave run coming on a first inning blast by Anna Shelnutt.
The pitchers kept the offense at bay until the fifth inning when Shelnutt doubled home two more runs to close the gap to 5-3. Ashlyn Summerlin then came home on a wild pitch to make it 5-4.
The pressure mounted as freshman standout pitcher Jordan Watson continued to hold down the vaunted Wolves offense. In the top of the sixth inning senior Jasmine Cook and sophomore Cali Harrod launched back-to-back homers which send the large crowd of Brave fans into a frenzy and the Braves led 7-5.
Entering the bottom of the seventh inning the score remained 7-5 with the Braves just three outs away from advancing to the state championship series with Dade County.
Tension mounted when a bloop hit by the Wolves and a walk to top college prospect CaraMia Tsirigos who had already homered earlier in the game put two runners on base bringing the winning run to the plate.
On a 2-0 count, Victoria Distasi hit a fly ball that just landed over the fence for a walk-off 3-run homer giving the Wolves the win and breaking the hearts of the Brave Nation.
“The lead-off hitter got on with a jam shot that lands five feet off of the grass. Jordan make a heck of a pitch and bad luck happens. We were not about to let Tsirigos beat us. She’s a big-time division one prospect with teams from all across the nation wanting her that is why we pitched around her,” Hornsby said.
“Then we have a 2-0 count right there against Distasi and we throw a change-up because we’re not throwing her anything hard, either. And she keeps her hands back and the wind’s blowing out. If the wind’s not blowing out, we probably catch that ball,” added Hornsby.
It was a devastating turn of events for the Lady Braves who despite the loss completed one of the most amazing seasons in Heard County sports history.
The team finished with a school record 32 wins and Watson set the benchmark for pitching wins with 25. It was an outstanding accomplishment as the girls advanced farther than any other team since the 1984 State Championship runner-up baseball team coached by Norris Vaughn.
”It hurts that it’s our last game but it feels amazing after not even getting to the sweet sixteen the last two years to finally making it down here to Columbus, especially getting all the way to Saturday and almost making it into the state championship. That feeling is like no other and nothing can replace it. I am so proud of all of our girls we worked so hard for this and we have nothing to be ashamed of.”~ Brave Senior Alyssa Bishop