The Bryan County Ladyskins Softball Team made history Saturday becoming the first team from BCHS to ever make it to the much coveted "Elite Eight" in fast pitch softball.
The Elite Eight consists of the top four high school teams from southern Georgia and the top four teams from northern Georgia in Region A. These eight teams will go on to compete for the state title in Columbus, Georgia on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Ladyskins had to win one of the four slots available in the region tournament that took place in Dublin this past weekend. They joined fifteen other teams from throughout South Georgia Region A high schools.The Ladyskins began their battle Friday evening facing Baconton High School, ranked third in Region 1A. Bryan County took the field as visitors on the coin toss, giving Baconton first at bat. Baconton’s first two batters took up position on the bags taking a walk and being hit by a pitch.
As the third batter was struck out, batter number four reached on a error scoring one of the runners. Thesecond runner scored on a wild pitch before the Ladyskins regained control of the game as first baseman Meghan Shuman snagged a low flying line drive and got the double play by tagging her base while the anxious runner attempted to retrace her steps after jumping off the base without tagging up. Shuman’s heads up play seemed to be the catalyst the Skins needed and they never looked back.
Their first at bat was punishment for Baconton as the Ladyskins put eleven runs on four hits on the scoreboard. The last hit of this inning left the Skins’ fans on their feet as Samantha Howard drove a three run home run over the left center field fence. It was all over but the crying for Baconton who never managed to cross home plate again or to secure a single hit against the Ladyskins defense. BCHS finished with a 15-2 win to move them deeper into the winner’s bracket and closer to one of the four Elite Eight positions. Taylor County, ranked first in Region 4A, would be next on the agenda for the Skins.
Once again, Howard took the mound for the Skins.
Senior Ashley Barfield who was nursing an injured arm, sat out the game putting center fielder Bridget Bacon as short stop.
Taylor County was first to score in the first inning putting BCHS down by four and continued to peck away at the Skins’ defense into the third inning where they loaded the bases. They then unloaded the bases on an over-the-fence grand slam home run that put the Skins down by eight.
The weakened Skins, missing a key offensive and defensive player in Barfield, managed to put the ball into play but with little authority and remained scoreless until the fourth inning when a walk by Meghan Shuman advanced to home plate on back to back singles by Rebecca Horton and Taylor Stanfield, putting the Skins on the board. The only remaining run for the Skins would come in the fifth inning as Bridget Bacon reached on a single and would advance home by Tara Miles’ single.
The two runs and lack of any substantial hitting power was too much for the Skins to over come falling 12-2 to Taylor Co.
Saturday would be quite a different day for the Skins. Schley County High School was the next opponent waiting in the losers’ bracket. Schley was the second place team from Region 4A. Schley took the lead in the second inning scoring a single run.
Barfield had reentered the game for the Ladyskins as shortstop while Samantha Howard took the mound. Schley was unable to score any more runs as the Redskins defense backed up their pitcher allowing no additional Schley runners to cross home. Howard gave up only a single hit while striking out nine batters.
The Redskins once again put the ball into play only to have the Schley defense waiting to shut them down.
As the Redskins came to bat in the last half of the seventh inning, their single chance for a win was quickly wanning.
Miles, first to bat, hit a beautiful line drive single to left field. Coach Kim Covington, hoping to shake up the Schley defense, turned to small ball bunting power hitter Meghan Shuman to advance Miles to second base.
The Skins earned a bonus when the off balance Schley defense allowed Shuman to also reach safely. Horton was given the bunt sign and once again the Schley defense was caught off guard and the Skins loaded the bases.
Stanfield, who hit consistently throughout the tournament, hit a line drive single to left field to score Miles for the tying run.
Barfield proved her capabilities as she drilled a deep sac fly to center field to score pinch runner Kayla Koskela for the win.
With the ticket to the state playoffs within reach, the Skins had only two more teams between going home and going to Columbus.
Like a team with a single objective in mind, the Ladyskins completely outplayed Bacon County, both defensively and offensively. Bacon County celebrated with an early two run lead but their celebration lasted briefly as the Skins began a hitting expo that would end with 22 hits and 15 runs, out-scoring Bacon County 15-9.
Ashley Barfield joined the exclusive BCHS homerun club on her second pitch of the game launching the ball over the centerfield fence for the second of two BCHS homeruns.
Only a single team now stood between the Skins and their bid for the state playoffs. Seminole County, ranked first in Region 1A, was certainly a formidable opponent but the Skins once again went on a hitting rally that ended with twelve hits and nine runs shutting down Seminole 9-5.
The Redskins had 54 total hits in the tournament and allowed only 26 runs to be scored against them by their opponents.
Howard once again led the Skins in hits batting .611 for the tournament while striking out 32 batters.
Ashley Barfield batted .500 while nursing an injured arm. Bridget Bacon also batted .500 and Taylor Stanfield made her mark with a .467 average. Rounding out the top five batters was Meghan Shuman, also injured, but still able to rack up an impressive .375.
The Ladyskins face Gordon Lee Thursday evening at 4 pm in Columbus. Also joining BCHS at state will be fellow Region 3A opponent Savannah Country Day who will face Jefferson Co. The Lady Redskins will be given a grand send off from the BCHS gym Wednesday at 2:15, so come out and show your support and let the Skins know you are behind them.