(Kennesaw, GA) – The Lady Braves varsity softball team traveled to Bailey Park at Kennesaw State University as the AJC’s top ranked AA team Saturday to face a big challenge in the #2 ranked Wolves of Wesleyan and walked away with a solid 2-0 win behind Jordan Watson’s gem performance on the mound.
Watson set a career high in strikeouts with 14 while allowing just two hits and no walks over seven full innings of play in the shut out of the Norcross-based private school.
The Lady Braves were not unfamiliar with the Lady Wolves having lost to them twice during last year’s state tournament in Columbus, including the heartbreaking loss on a walk-off homer that kept them from the state championship game.
Watson was aided by stellar defense from her teammates all day long. She was excited to get the big win. “It felt really good to get this win,” said the sophomore ace. “I just had to come out here and play my hardest today because I lost to them twice last year.”
Watson has pitched very well for several games in a row versus some great teams and she knows she will need to keep it up as her team battles increasing pressure as they aim for the first GHSA State Championship in school history. “I have just really had to focus the last few game because everybody is expecting a lot out of me,” said Watson after Saturday’s revenge win.
Her Wolves’ counterpart, Dacia Jones, also pitched well scattering five hits over six innings. Jones also came inches from ending the shutout in the top of the seventh inning when she blasted a pitch to left field that bounded off the very top of the outfield fence. Brave left fielder Madison Whitehead was able to gather the ball as it caromed off the fence and Jones ended up at third base with a triple before Watson ended the game with her 14th K.
The Braves got on the board first in the fourth inning on a huge two-out single by senior Ashlyn Summerlin which scored freshman courtesy runner Aspen Barker.
Cali Harrod tripled and scored the insurance run on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.
Braves head coach Matt Hornsby was pleased with the outcome. ”We knew that they were going to be good. We had called around and kind of had a clue what their pitcher (Jones) was going to try to do. It always helps your girls when they have an idea what she is going to throw,” said Hornsby.
“Jones is a tough pitcher and she has changed her approach. She is no longer trying to blow it by everybody but is trying to use finesse and it is working well for her. For us, Jordan was the best we have ever seen her today and our defense was as good as it gets.”
The win was a huge confidence builder for the team as all Heard County sports teams have struggled during recent years when matched up with the powerful Region 6-AA Atlanta private schools.
The Lady Braves won’t have much time to celebrate as the gauntlet continues when they travel to Bremen this Tuesday (5:00) to take on AA’s seventh-ranked Lady Blue Devils. They return home on Thursday to face Chattahoochee County (4:30) and Spencer (5:30).
JV Lady Braves 8, Wolves 2
The JV Lady Braves set the pace for the Brave Nation Saturday afternoon at KSU with a big win of their own 8-2 over the Wolves in a game played prior to the varsity game.
Freshman Holy Ground transfer Hattie Yarbrough continued to shine on the hill and several Lady braves had big hits at the plate.
A two-RBI double by Hannah Stephens scored Ally Harris and Aspen Barker to get the Lady Braves on the board and Anna Sims drove home another run with a double giving the team an early 3-0 lead after the first inning. Stephens and Yarbrough also drove home runs in the fifth.
The girls are back in action Monday when they travel to Troup County for a doubleheader with the Tigers.