Jackson County coach Chessie Laird certainly got the offensive performance she’s been looking for.
Struggling with leaving runners on base this season, her Panther team got plenty of them across the plate Thursday night, scoring early and often in a 15-5, five-inning win over rival Jefferson.
“I believe that’s the first game all season that we’ve jumped out of the gate (like that),” said Laird, whose team scored 10 runs in the first three innings. “We’ve been waiting on that one. That was huge for us. So many good things can happen when you start right out of the gate.”
Jackson County (7-8, 3-2) pounded out 13 hits in the win while scoring a season-high 15 runs. Shelton Kendrix went 3-for-3 with a double, four runs scored and an RBI. Peyton Sorrells finished 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Alyssa Dasher was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Jessica Baker worked three innings for the win, surrendering seven hits, three runs (one earned) and a walk while striking out one batter.
The Panthers built a 6-0 lead after one inning and a 10-1 lead after three innings before Jefferson (5-7, 2-3) plated three runs in the fourth. But the Panthers extinguished any hopes of a Dragon comeback with a five-run fifth inning, highlighted by a two-run homer by Baker.
Jackson County got a little help during its big first inning, taking advantage of three Jefferson errors and a bases-loaded walk while also pounding out four hits score the first six runs of the game.
Jefferson coach Zach Black, whose team dropped its third straight region contest, pointed to the defensive miscues.
“We made some mistakes early on and they capitalized on them,” Black said. “We just couldn’t overcome it. We’ve been battling that past few days. One mistake turns into 50 it feels like. We’ve just got to figure out a way to overcome it. It’s tough, but credit to them (Jackson County).”
Black pointed out there’s still a lot of softball left this season for this team.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “We’ll be alright. We’ll be fine. It’s just frustrating. Hopefully somebody will step up and we’ll capitalize on that.”
Meanwhile, this was a big week for Jackson County as it beat both its intra-county rivals — having downed East Jackson Tuesday before winning at Jefferson — and picked up two more region wins.
Laird praised her team’s focus and poise in the two victories.
“It could be really easy to come in and be overhyped for games like this, especially against your rivals like Jefferson and East Jackson,” said Laird, a Jefferson alum who played for the Dragons from 1999-2002. “Everyone wants to win those games.”
Jackson County returns to action Sept. 4 when it hosts Oconee County. Jefferson has games with West Forsyth and North Gwinnett at the University of North Georgia Friday before returning home to face Winder-Barrow Tuesday.
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