The Winder-Barrow High School softball team may be surprising everyone but itself.
The fast-pitch Lady Bulldoggs secured their first ever trip to Columbus by sweeping Paulding County last week. WBHS will play Houston County Thursday in an Elite Eight game at 4:15 p.m.
Coach Monty McClure said Sunday that timely hitting has been a key of late for the WBHS fast-pitch softball team.
“The girls are focused on having quality at-bats,” McClure said. “We have battled back when we are down in the count. Recently we have had three or four two-strike hits which started big innings. We try to stress having quality plate appearances and we have been doing a great job with that.”
Erin Harbin has been one of the team’s key pitchers and Cathleen Nugue is also contributing on the pitcher’s mound.
“The big thing for us has not been giving up walks,” McClure said. “We are making them earn it.”
The WBHS defense has played well in support of Harbin and Nugue. Catcher Carlee Thurmond is one of the top catchers in the state and helps anchor the Lady Bulldogg defense.
Mckenzy MacFarland has helped the defense with solid play in center field.
“Against Paulding County she made several plays that were game-saving ones,” McClure said. “She has a tremendous read when the ball comes off the bat and then has the speed to get there to make the catch.”
With each win, the team continues to build more confidence.
“It doesn’t matter if we are ahead or behind,” McClure said. “We’ve had to come from behind several times.”
The Lady Bulldoggs are led by six seniors including Harbin, Erin Glockson, Bree Lynn, Christa Watkins, Shelby Phillips and Meagan Salter.
WBHS is coming off a sweep of Paulding County last week as the Lady Bulldoggs posted 3-1 and 5-3 victories. Next up is Houston County who enter the Elite Eight game at 23-11 overall.
“We are going to face tough competition, but we have all year,” McClure said. “We’ve been behind in games all year and have ended up losing some. However, we never quit in a game regardless of the score or situation. We are hustling every play out. We have to continue to believe the game is not over even if we are behind 5-0.”
McClure, who is in his fourth season as head coach, said Houston County is a very competitive and scrappy group with good pitching.
“They do everything right,” the WBHS coach said. “They are not going to beat themselves.”
WBHS joins Region 8-AAAAA team Loganville to advance to the Elite Eight. Heritage and Apalachee were eliminated last week.
Ola, Pope, Effingham County, Northgate and Creekview also advanced to Columbus.
If the Lady Bulldoggs defeat Houston County, they will face the winner of Ola-Pope Thursday at 7:45 p.m.
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