December 3, 2020

Softball Championship Caps Perfect Season at HCMS

2017 West Georgia Middle School Champion Lady Braves with coaches (L-R) Gavin Porter, Tyler Spradlin, and Kelly Hadley

(Franklin, GA) — The Heard County Middle School Lady Braves completed a perfect season Thursday at Heard High School in front of one of the largest softball crowds in county sports history.

The middle Lady Braves shut out the Bowdon in dominating fashion, winning via run rule in four innings to take the West Georgia Small School title from the 2016 Champion Red Devils.

The 12-0 championship game win pushed the Lady Braves season record to 12-0. Ironically, the Lady Braves improved to 11-0 in Wednesday afternoon’s semifinal at HCMS with an 11-0 win over visiting Villa Rica.

The championship win capped off a season of domination by the Lady Braves as they were only challenged once during the season, a 6-5 win over the Red Devils earlier in the season. Outside of that close ball game, the average margin of victory in all other games was well over 11 runs per game.

The Lady Braves outscored their opponents by a remarkable tally of 162-20 during the season including an impressive 7-2 exhibition win over a talented private school (Wesleyan) to open the season at Kennesaw State University.

The offense banged out 10 hits in Thursday’s title win. Leading the way with two hits each were Emma Helton (2-for-3, 2 doubles, 2 RBI’s), MacKenzie Hart (2-for-3, double, triple, two RBI’s), and Hannah Wright (2-for-2, two RBI’s). Chasity Kates and Chaple Butler each had a base hit and scored two runs apiece.

On the mound it was the tandem of Brianna Hill and Makayla Giles that combined on the shutout with neither giving up base hit.

Giles struck out three in just 1 and 2/3 innings of work to close out the game. In Wednesday’s 11-0 shutout over Villa Rica it was Wright, Hart, and Janiyah Strong leading the way offensively.

The lauded Lady Brave offense is talked about often but the performance by Hill and Giles to no-hit opponents throughout the playoffs was profound.

Strong went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI’s. It was her fourth middle dinger of the season. Hart was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI’s. Wright was 1-for-2 with her first HR of the season and two steals.

Lady Brave Shortstop Emma Helton batting during Thursday’s Championship win over Bowdon

Wright and Hart both finished the season with astounding batting averages well above the .700 mark.

Wright led the team with a .778 average and Hart was not far behind her with a .727 average. Emma Helton finished the season with a .667 average.

Hill and Giles also combined on the no-hit 11-0 shutout win over the Wildcats Wednesday with Hill tossing four innings and Giles finishing it off by throwing the fifth and final inning in relief.

Head coach Gavin Porter was very proud of his girls and their remarkable accomplishments this season.

“Just a great game tonight. Brianna didn’t have her very best stuff tonight, but Giles came in and just looked like an ace for us,” said Porter after the game.

“It was something we have talked about this year was having multiple pitchers and Makayla came in and was just lights out today. She shut the door on them in the third with the bases loaded and that was the key today.”

Everyone in the West Georgia area knows about the Lady Braves talented players that also played junior varsity games this season, but Porter credits his younger players for being a huge part of the undefeated season as well.

“You know our young kids really answered the call this year especially in winning those 4-5 games where many of our top starters were playing the JV games,” said Porter. “We have some strong seventh graders like Morgan Smith, Hannah Wright, Aubrey Ussery, and Gracie Bailey and several others coming back that can lead us back here next year.”

Porter’s loss at HCMS will be Coach Matt Hornsby’s gain as the talented group of eighth graders move to HHS next year where many already feel they could contend for a state title during the next several years. Porter says the group is a joy to coach as well as watch.

“I’m not saying you don’t have to coach this group but they are just so mature and know the game so well it has been so fun to watch them get better on their own — and they just work so freaking hard.”

Season offensive leaders for the Lady Braves were Hannah Wright (.778 batting average, 9 doubles), Janiyah Strong (4 home runs), MacKenzie Hart (24 hits, 3 triples, 21 RBI’s), Chasity Kates (22 runs, 17 stolen bases), and Emma Helton (12 walks).

Brianna Hill led the pitching stats with a 2.51 ERA in 32+ innings pitched with 21 strikeouts.

The varsity Lady Braves were in attendance Thursday and the first to storm the field and congratulate the young Lady Braves on the title.

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