JEFFERSON made quick work of its first state playoff opponent in four years.
The Dragons (19-14), who last went to state in 2008, blasted Manchester 15-0 and 14-0 in a Wednesday home double header to advance to the Sweet 16 of the Class AA tournament. Click here for photos.
Jefferson — winners of 14 of its last 17 games — hasn’t allowed a run since the regular season ended.
“This is what I expected today (Wednesday),” Jefferson coach Melissa Mullis said. “I wanted them to come out and I wanted them to play at their level, regardless of the competition. We made some mistakes that were not obvious to everybody that we’re going to continue to talk about and work on. But they made their adjustments at the plate, adjustments to pitchers, got the hits … It was nice, also, to get some younger kids in the game as we went through the second game.”
Jefferson faces Dade County at home today (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. in a double header in the second round of the Class AA playoffs. A third game, if needed, is slated for Thursday at 5 p.m. at Jefferson.
“We’re going to be preparing every moment to take care of them Wednesday and Thursday here and work out some things that we still need to workout,” Mullis said. “But I couldn’t ask for anything more, for my girls to come out and increasingly get better and increasingly play up to their potential. So we’re excited.”
And these are exciting times for the program.
If Jefferson wins the three-game series against Dade County, the Dragons will punch their tickets to the state quarterfinals in Columbus.
“What a dream, huh?” Mullis said. “For these girls, I would absolutely love it. Some of these girls have been together for a long time. To see them achieve such a high level, it would definitely warm a lot of people’s hearts in this community.”
In the doubleheader against Manchester, the Dragons had nine-run innings in both its victories over the no. 4 seed out of Region 5-AA to bring a quick end to the series.
The first game went just three innings.
Jordan Phillips went 2-for-3 and drove home three runs to lead Jefferson at the plate. Savannah Snapp, Morgan McKinney and Ashley Boyd also went 2-for-3. Boyd and Snapp both drove home two runs, and McKinney had one RBI. Erin Jackson (1-for-2) also had two RBIs.
The nightcap lasted four innings.
Meagan Faulkner went 2-for-2 with three RBIs, and McKinney was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Boyd (1-for-3) and Snapp (1-for-3) each had two RBIs.
With the luxury of a large lead, Jefferson was able to unload its bench and get several back-ups state tournament experience.
“There are some of them that work really hard that don’t see a lot of time,” Mullis said. “To get them in a playoff game is amazing.”
McKinney earned the win in both games, pitching a combined six innings, surrendering three hits and striking out 14 batters.
Emily Holman pitched one shutout inning of relief in the nightcap.
While the lopsided wins were nice, the road through the playoffs only gets tougher from here.
“We know from this point forward, it’s going to be very high-pressure situations … it’s going to be intense,” Mullis said. “I’ve got to do a good job of preparing them through this week coming off these game with a different type of pitcher potentially and different hitters. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
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