In a matchup between the top two softball teams in GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA from a season ago, Apalachee defeated Dacula 10-5 Tuesday afternoon to begin the 2017 region schedule.

The Wildcats used a six-run fourth inning to build enough of a cushion to hold off the visiting Falcons. Freshman Emily Hodnett earned the win for Apalachee (2-3, 1-0 region) scattering nine hits while allowing three earned runs and striking out six. Hodnett pitched a complete game throwing 128 pitches.

“We knew going into this game it would be a test of how hard we have worked,” said first-year Apalachee coach Jessica Sinclair. “Dacula is a great team with great speed and they have several good players returning from last year’s team. We knew we needed this one. Still, we are not completely satisfied. We had a chance to close this game out in the fifth inning and didn’t. We will keep working to improve.”

Offensively, the Wildcats were paced by Grace Hedges (3-for-4), Alexis Mobley (3-for-4, two RBI), Nicole Trammell (2-for-4, two RBIs), Hodnett (2-for-3), Madyson Coe (1-for-4, two RBIs) and Briana Bryson (1-for-4).

The Wildcats took a 10-1 lead into the top of the fifth inning and had two outs before Dacula managed to push three runs across to extend the contest. The Falcons would add another run in the top of the sixth inning but left the bases loaded.

Sinclair praised Hodnett for performing well in the region opener.

“That was a big performance for a freshman,” Sinclair said.

“She got a little taste of playing on this field last year as an eighth grader on the junior varsity. It’s amazing how hard she works and the work ethic she brings to the field.”

Apalachee scored two runs in the bottom of the second Tuesday as Alexis Griffith had a two-out single to start the rally.

Mobley’s single over third base scored the first run of the game. Bryson later walked, and when she stole second Mobley scored on the play.

In the bottom of the third, Hodnett reached on an error. Kinsley Kraus was used as a courtesy runner and stole second. Nicole Trammell singled, and on a Dacula error on the play Kraus was able to score. Hedges then delivered an RBI single for a 4-1 lead..

Apalachee was scheduled to host Shiloh in a non-region game Wednesday before traveling to Gainesville on Thursday for a region contest at 5:55 p.m.

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