November 17, 2017

Lady Braves score elusive Region 5-AA Championship

(Bremen, GA) — The Lady Braves traveled to Bremen Saturday with a lot to prove at the Region 5-AA Championship softball tournament after failing to capture the trophy the past two seasons despite very strong third place finishes at the state tournament in Columbus.

At the end of the night, senior Cali Harrod and the rest of the team had a lot to celebrate after hoisting the Region 5-AA trophy with a 9-0 shutout of the hosting Bremen Lady Devils in the championship game.

The win was a huge turnaround from the last two meetings between the two teams including being shut down 1-0 at home last week and 3-0 in last year’s championship game also at HHS.

The Lady Braves overcame a scrappy Bowdon squad in the semi-finals with a comeback 2-1 win over the Red Devilettes.

Junior Jordan Watson was again a huge key to the Lady Braves success allowing  just one run and seven hits in 13 innings pitched on the day.

Watson also was a key at the plate in the championship game as she smashed a three-run homer in the top of the first inning off of Bremen pitcher Chelsea Stillwell. The homer was a huge lift for the team after Stillwell had shut them out during the last two meetings.

“It was huge in the first inning when Jordan came up and gave herself a three run cushion because not many teams are going to be able to come back from that with her on the mound,” said assistant coach Trent Bianco.

2014 Region 5-AA Champions -- FRONT (L-R): Sarah Schofield, Jordan Watson. Hannah Stephens, Madison Whitehead, Alexis Raines, Hattie Yarbrough   BACK (L-R): Coach Ryan Duffey, Coach Kelly Hadley, Katie Minix, Hannah Sanders, Johanna Beyer, Aspen Barker, Ally Harris, Alyssa Cosper, Cali Harrod, Anna Shelnutt, Coach Trent Bianco (Photo: Rhonda Raines)

2014 Region 5-AA Champions — FRONT (L-R): Sarah Schofield, Jordan Watson. Hannah Stephens, Madison Whitehead, Alexis Raines, Hattie Yarbrough BACK (L-R): Coach Ryan Duffey, Coach Kelly Hadley, Katie Minix, Hannah Sanders, Johanna Beyer, Aspen Barker, Ally Harris, Alyssa Cosper, Cali Harrod, Anna Shelnutt, Coach Trent Bianco (Photo: Rhonda Raines)

Bianco served as the lead coach for the day with head coach Matt Hornby serving a two-game suspension after an ejection during the October 2 game with Bremen.

The coaches also decided on a change in the line-up for the championship game which quickly paid off. For the first time this season, the team led off with Harrod, Anna Shelnutt, and Jordan Watson hitting at the top of the line-up followed by sophomore Hannah Sanders in the clean-up spot.

“All of the coaches sat down with coach Hornsby between games and we decided to stack them up so they couldn’t pitch around Cali and they would have to go right at somebody,” said Bianco.

The strategy proved effective as the first three hitters combined for six hits including a homer and five runs scored in the 9-0 win. Watson had three hits and four RBI’s to lead the way. Shelnutt, Johanna Beyer, and Hannah Stephens each had solid games at the plate with two hits apiece.

Stephens had arguably the most important hit of the day in the semi-final, a lead-off hit versus Bowdon which keyed the two-run rally in the bottom of the 5th inning. Beyer and Madison Whitehead laid down near perfect bunt hits to bring Stephens around to score.

Natalie Brown had given the Red Devilettes a 1-0 lead with a base hit in the fourth. Alanna Nunn pitched well for Bowdon who knocked off Manchester 13-1 to take third place in the region.

The Lady Braves will now host the Holy Innocents Golden Bears, a Region 6-AA private school from Atlanta. The teams will square off in a best-of-three series with a doubleheader Wednesday (times TBA) and a third game (if necessary) would be on Thursday afternoon.

In other round one Region 5-AA match-ups with Region 6-AA, Bremen will host Pace Academy while Bowdon will travel to the Lovett School and Manchester travels to Wesleyan.

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