The Jefferson softball team has lived to fight another day, but the Dragons will see if they can keep their season alive past tomorrow.
Jefferson made a long second-round state playoff trek to Heritage-Catoosa, just shy of the Georgia-Tennessee border, and earned a doubleheader split Thursday (Oct. 22) with the two-time defending Class AAAA state champions. The Dragons took the opener, 2-0, behind a gem of a pitching performance from Camoreena Hart, but lost the nightcap 6-0.
Jefferson (22-8) will play the rubber game tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 23) at 2 p.m. at Heritage-Catoosa.
“Our motto is survive-and-advance right now,” Dragon coach Kacie Bostwick said. “Today, we survived, and hopefully tomorrow we advance. I feel like what’s disappointing is that in Game 2, we didn’t play our best game, and we know that we have to play our best in order to beat good teams. So, that is what’s the disappointing thing, not the loss itself.
“But I hope that when we come out here tomorrow, it’s a repeat of Game 1, and we play our best again.”
Hart was nearly un-hittable in the opener, tossing a four-hit, complete game shutout. She issued just one walk and struck out five batters.
“She did a great job,” Bostwick said. “I think she kept them off-balance. And so that’s why we went ahead with her in Game 2. If it’s not broke, why fix it?”
Heritage-Catoosa starter Rachel Gibson was nearly as impressive, firing a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts in Game 1, but the Dragons were able to take advantage of opportunities with the base runners when presented with them.
Following a pair of first-inning walks issued by Gibson, Jefferson's Mac Turner drove home Livi Blackstock with a sacrifice fly to left field. Jefferson scored its other run in the top of the fourth inning when Maleia Truelove bounced a two-out single to left field. An error by Heritage-Catoosa left fielder Lexi Duckett on the hit allowed pinch runner Audrey Burton to score from third.
The Generals managed much more offense in their Game 2 win, chasing Hart from the game after 2 1/3 innings.
Heritage build a 5-0 lead after three innings.
“I think they had her (Hart) timed up a little bit, so we went with (Taylor) Spivey,” Bostwick said. “Defensively, we weren’t sound enough, so hopefully tomorrow that changes.”
The Generals finished with nine hits in Game 2, including a pair of RBI triples. Ellie Kinlaw led Jefferson offensively in Game 2, going 2-for-3.
Jefferson now finds itself essentially with a one-game season tomorrow.
“I think our seniors are not ready to be done, and I think their teammates also don’t want to be done,” Bostwick said. “So, we’ve just got to play like we don’t want to be done.”