You can call them champions.
The Apalachee High School fast-pitch softball team dispatched host Loganville High School last Thursday evening 10-2 in six innings to win the Region 8-AAAAA championship.
It was the first region softball title in program history and capped a night where the Lady Wildcats played one of their best games of the season. AHS, with ace Becca Meade handling the pitching duties, jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the top of the third inning. LHS scored two runs in the bottom of the third, but that would be as close as the Lady Red Devils would get. The Lady Wildcats scored four more in the fifth on a grand slam by Logan Leverette and two more in the top of the sixth on their way to the region crown.
“We had good pitching, good defense and good looks at the plate,” said first-year AHS coach Matt Allen. “We scored 10 runs on 15 hits. If we do that every game from here on out, we won’t lose again. We crushed it against two pretty good pitchers.”
For Meade, one of the team’s senior leaders, the region title was the effort of several years of hard work and dedication.
“This is a great way to end the regular season,” Meade said. “I hoped we could come out and play like this. Our team hit well and we did what we had to do against a team that is always tough to beat.”
LHS handed AHS its lone region loss during the regular season, but the Lady Wildcats were not going to be denied in this matchup.
Fellow senior Hannah Medlam, who moved from the outfield to third base this season, also played a big role in Thursday’s region final win and throughout 2014.
“This feels amazing,” she said. “We always seem to have a lot of bad luck when we play at Loganville. This is a great feeling to win the game the way we did.”
Holly Janco started the game with a single and it would be a sign of things to come for AHS. Janco later reached home on an RBI by Medlam.
In the top of the third, Mia Giddens led off with a single followed by a single from Medlam. Savannah Clark, another of the team’s seniors, then picked up two RBI. Medlam later scored on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead.
LHS tried to get back in the game in the bottom half of the third scoring its lone two runs. However, Apalachee would answer in the top of the fifth loading the bases on singles by Clark, Mikayla Carlyle and Allison Cole. Leverette then delivered a crushing grand slam over the right field fence, her fourth homer of the season.
Those runs would provide the Lady Wildcats with more than enough cushion. AHS added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth. Giddens had a leadoff single followed by a double from Medlam. Giddens would cross home on a wild pitch and Medlam later scored on a throwing error to third base by the LHS catcher.
Meade put the Lady Red Devils down in order in the bottom of the sixth.
“We did an excellent job in a pressure situation,” Allen said. “We took advantage of the chances we had. We had met some of the goals we set for this season such as beating Loganville and beating Winder-Barrow. We get to host the first two of state and we hope to make it to Columbus. Getting there is our next goal.”
The first-year Lady Wildcat coach traced the success to this point in 2014 to the players putting the team’s needs first.
“We are a better team than we are individuals,” Allen said. “We have moved people around and I have coached them in a different way from what they were used to.”
The Apalachee High School softball team will begin play in the state tournament Wednesday (today) against River Ridge, from Region 7-AAAAA. A doubleheader will be played at AHS beginning at 5 p.m.
A third game, if necessary, would be Thursday at 5 p.m.
“I know they are coming out of a tough region,” said Lady Wildcat coach Matt Allen. “Cambridge and Creekview (the top two seeds) are very strong teams from that region. Kell was third. We will face a pretty sound team fundamentally.”
Motivation should not be an issue for AHS, its coach said.
“I don’t think the girls are satisfied with what we have accomplished so far,” Allen said. “They are seeing we have the potential to go a long way. The key will be to continue with the success we’ve had offensively.”