For three innings Richmond Hill’s fast improving softball team went toe-to-toe with South Effingham but then came unglued in the fourth and wound up on the short end of a deceiving 11-2 score Thursday night at Wildcats Field.
With Katie Rearley and the Mustangs heralded sophomore, Bailey Kendziorski, locked in a pitchers duel the Lady Cats were the first to blink.
Despite getting only two balls out of the infield, one of those a fly ball to center for the third out, South Effingham scored six runs off five hits and three Richmond Hill errorswhile also taking advantage of mental miscues by the Lady Cats.
“The girls have done a great job of focusing on the mental side of the game,” Coach Chris Jenkins said. “I haven’t seen them make some of the mistakes we made tonight.
“It was disappointing. South Effingham is good but I’ll take my chances with them. In the first game (4-1 Mustangs win) it was a 1-1 game in the fifth inning and they got three runs.”
On Thursday night the Mustangs turned a tight game into a breather as they tacked on five runs in the sixth inning highlighted by a bases-loaded home run by Chloe Turner.
Richmond Hill scored twice in the sixth which Jenkins found encouraging.
“I thought it showed their character,” Jenkins said of his team. “If you weren’t looking at the scoreboard you would have thought it was a 1-0 or tie game the way they played.
“Our focus is getting better every day and be ready when the region tournament comes the first week of October.”
The Lady Cats had nine hits against Kendziorski who won 20 games last year as a freshman and is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the state regardless of class.
Daisy Avery enjoyed a perfect night at the plate for Richmond Hill as she was 3-for-3 and Kayla Ragins had a pair of singles. Rei Voight singled to drive in both Lady Cats runs in sixth.
Richmond Hill missed a golden opportunity to take charge of the game in the first inning when Lucy Tuttle led off with a double and Avery singled.
Avery then stole second but Kendziorski bowed her neck and got the next three hitters. A big out came when Avery Fisher hit a hard line drive to left center that appeared to be headed for the alley only to have Turner make a running catch to hold Tuttle at third.
“That was huge,” Jenkins said. “If we score there it changes a lot of things they want to do.”
Despite the loss the Lady Cats (6-5, 4-4) find themselves in second-place in the Region 2-6A regular season race. South Effingham is unbeaten at 6-0 and is 12-3 overall.
Glynn Academy, who Richmond Hill beat 3-1 last week, is 3-3 in the region, 6-5 overall followed by Effingham County (5-5, 2-3).
Richmond Hill has four remaining region games with three of them on the road. After a home game with Statesboro at 6 p.m. on Tuesday the Lady Cats go to Bradwell Institute, Effingham and Glynn before beginning region tournament play.