(Article updated to reflect new rankings by AJC released on 08/21/12)
For the second straight weekend the Lady Braves varsity softball team prevailed from a big tournament with a 5-0 record running their season record to a perfect 10-0.
After winning the Jordan tournament August 10-11 the girls returned to action Friday and Saturday in the Callaway Classic which took place at the Shuford Softball Complex in Lagrange.
The pool play tournament featured 12 teams in action including several larger schools. After taking down Landmark Christian (5-A) and Callaway (5-AA) on Friday night the girls defeated three bigger schools Saturday including wins over Shaw (5A-AAAA), Lagrange (5A-AAAA), and Troup High School (5A-AAAA).
The most exciting game of the tourney was an extra inning win over Lagrange. Sophomore Cali Harrod faked a bunt and then swung away to drive in senior Jasmine Cook for the game winner in the 4-3 decision.
In the last game, a 10-3 time limit win over Troup High, Harrod led off with a solo home run and senior Alyssa Bishop added a two run blast to put the Braves on top for good.
Head Coach Matt Hornsby’s squad this year, which has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 78-11, features both youth and experience. The outfield is anchored by Seniors Bishop, Tiffany Smith, and Jasmine Cook while the infield features some younger players.
Overall five different freshman players are seeing playing time including Jordan Watson who has handled the majority of the pitching duties. Watson has yet to allow more than three runs to be scored in any game this season.
Despite her early success, perhaps an even bigger surprise has been the pitching of Senior Tiffany Smith. “We are extremely lucky on the mound this season. Tiffany Smith has yet to give up a single run in her two starts or her relief work. She will be very valuable for us this year,” said Hornsby after Saturday’s action.
Offensively, Harrod has led the way from the lead-off spot and has three homers on the season. “Normally you want your best hitter batting in the three hole but Cali has been so productive that we have to get her as many at bats as possible so that is why she continues to hit lead-off,” added Hornsby.
Another freshman who is making an immediate impact is Anna Shelnutt who has seen a lot of action at third base. Shelnutt has been hitting in the five spot in the line-up to give her more RBI chances after a hot start.
Alexis Raines, Madison Whitehead, and Johanna Beyer are other freshman who have contributed quickly.
Front Row (L-R) Candace Ray, Madison Whitehead, Alexis Raines, Jasmine Jacobs, Camry Brice, Alyssa Bishop, Anna Shelnutt… Back Row (L-R) Coach Williams, Ashlyn Summerlin, Brittney Sims, Johanna Beyer, Jordan Watson, Jasmine Cook, Shemeka Parks, Cali Harrod, Tiffany Smith, Shea Person, Coach Hadley, Coach Hornsby
After playing 10 games over the last two weekends the girls will get an extended break before opening region play at home on September 4th versus Chattahoochee County (5:30).
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution rewarded the solid Braves play with a #3 state ranking in last week’s AJC softball AA poll. The top two teams ahead of the Braves include GAC at #1 and Bryan County at #2.
Unlike years past, the Lady Braves will face some tough region competition from Bremen and Bowdon who both moved up to AA with the reclassification this year.
The Lady Braves schedule will also see some extremely stiff out-of-region competition including powerhouse Pike County and defending AAAA State Champions Northgate who will both visit Heard High School for round-robin games on September 8.