Undeterred by a sudden deficit, the Jefferson softball team took down one of the region’s top teams in an early 8-AAAA showdown.
Jefferson fell behind Madison County 4-0 in the second inning — and later trailed 5-2 — but struck for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth in rallying to beat the Red Raiders 9-5 Thursday (Aug. 27) at home. Madison County (9-2, 3-1 Region 8-AAAA) was a state quarterfinals team last year.
“The pre-game talk was focus on every pitch, win every pitch, win every inning, don’t look at the scoreboard,” Jefferson coach Kacie Bostwick said.
Abby Beatty sparked the sixth-inning rally with a lead-off homer as Jefferson (3-2, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA) rebounded from a 2-0 loss to Flowery Branch last week.
Beatty later delivered a two run-single in the inning as Jefferson brought 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Beatty went 2-for-3 on the night with four RBIs.
“Abby came through big-time for us, and I think that kind of put the nail in the coffin a little bit,” Bostwick said.
Rayvn Saxon started and threw 5 1/3 innings before being relieved by Camoreena Hart in the top of the sixth inning. Hart gave up an RBI double to Emma Strickland (the run was charged to Saxon) and then went on to retire five consecutive batters to end the game.
Hart threw just seven pitches in setting down the Red Raiders in order in the top of the seventh inning to close out the contest.
Bostwick praised both of her pitchers.
“Our pitchers, I can’t say enough about how they work together,” Bostwick said. “It’s something you don’t understand, unless you’re in our program. But they are like a true team … They buy into each other. They want each other to be successful, and I think that’s why they are successful. Because Rayvn knows it’s not all on her, and Camoreena knows it’s not all on her.”
Madison County’s Ella Chancey gave the Red Raiders an early 2-0 lead when she swatted a first-inning home run over the left field wall. Madison County plated two more runs in the top of the second inning, the first off an error and the next with an RBI single from Lexi Jordan.
Jefferson didn’t get on the board until the bottom of the third when Beatty flew out to right field to bring home Paige Kelly, followed by an RBI single from Maleia Truelove, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
Down 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth after the RBI double from Strickland, Jefferson’s offense got rolling when Beatty blasted a two-strike offering over the fence in left centerfield.
“We put her up in the two-hole (batting second in the lineup) just to kind of give her a different look, and coach (Kyle) Hardy kind of gave her a trigger thing to think about during that at bat and I think it worked,” Bostwick said.
Anslee Pittman then sliced an RBI single down the left field line to cut the lead to 5-4. Kelly followed with a perfect squeeze bunt to score Audrey Burton, tying the game 5-5.
“We executed a bunt that was timely, and we needed that to happen,” Bostwick said.
Avery Hayes then scored on a passed ball to give the Dragons a 6-5 lead, followed by Beatty’s two-run double to increase the advantage to 8-5. Livi Blackstock provided the final run, scoring on a passed ball.
Hart forced three ground outs in the top of the seventh to end the game.
“I hope it’s a momentum builder,” Bostwick said of the win. “It’s kind of been hit-and-miss and up-and-down … I hope we continue to build from here. We’re a top region team, and I don’t feel like we’ve played like it — even this game, I don’t feel like we played like it. But we’re working that way.”
Jefferson plays in the the Veterans tournament Friday (Aug. 28), starting with Georgia Military at 5 p.m., before resuming region play Monday (Aug. 31) at 6:30 p.m. at North Oconee.