Richmond Hill’s improving softball team got off to an encouraging start in region play and Bryan County is looking more and more like a lock to win its region. The Wildcats, who moved up to 7A this season, opened Region 1-7A play by taking two out of three from Camden County while Coach Jason Roundtree’s Redskins are 3-0 in Region 3A-DI after an 8-0 win over Metter Tuesday night.
Bryan County is 7-3 overall and is already assured of a spot in the state playoffs as only four of the five teams in its region field teams. Richmond Hill is also in a five-team region with the top four advancing and it helped its cause by getting the two wins against Camden.
The Wildcats, like Bryan County, have been plagued with postponements or cancellations due to the weather but Coach Chris Jenkins is happy with the progress his team is making despite a 9-4 loss at Southeast Bulloch (10-4) on Tuesday.
The series with Camden was encouraging, Jenkins said, with Richmond Hill winning the first game, 5-3, and the third game, 12-7 as it exploded for 13 hits, three by senior centerfielder Lucy Tuttle who drove in four runs. Camden won the middle game, 5-3.
“Hopefully our performance in game three versus Camden will provide a spark,” Jenkins said. “Mental mistakes hurt us in game two and we challenged the girls in between games to take some ownership of their focus because they’re the ones with complete control over that.”
The Wildcats play at Wayne (12-1), ranked No. 4 in Class 4A, on Thursday and next Tuesday are at Valdosta (6-6, 0-2) which will be at Richmond Hill for a doubleheader on Thursday.
As evidenced by their Tuesday loss at SEB where they had an early 3-2 lead before the Yellowjackets took charge of the game with three runs in the third and two in the fourth the Wildcats are improving but are still a work in progress.
“With a young pitching staff and so many playing a new position or one they aren’t comfortable with we knew there would be some inconsistent play,” Jenkins said. “The physical parts of the game have improved and some that were off to a slow start offensively are starting to swing the bat well.
“We like where we are with our pitching and defense although there’s still room for improvement in both,” Jenkins said. “We like how we have progressed.
“Right now, the mental part of the game is keeping us from playing to our potential. We’re not making the same mistakes twice so we’re learning from them and that’s all a coaching staff can ask.”
Bryan County is yet to be tested in region play and is not likely to be as it has outscored Metter 14-2 in their two meetings and has a 15-0 win over Claxton.
With a game remaining with Claxton and two with Screven County only a complete collapse will keep the Redskins from winning the region and earning the right to host a Super Regional with three other teams. This represents a new setup for this year’s state tournament.
Joyner turned in a typical performance Tuesday as she limited Metter to three hits while striking out eight.
Bekah Johnson ad a pair of doubles to drive in a run while Presly Carlucci and Kenzie Mobley each drove in two runs. Joyner helped her own cause with a double and RBI.