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Wildcats shake off loss in season opener to win two

Richmond Hill softball coach Chris Jenkins couldn’t suppress a chuckle when asked how many new starters he had.

“Nine,” replied Jenkins who is starting his third season with the Wildcats.

Richmond Hill, shaking off a season-opening 11-0 loss at Effingham County, bounced back to beat Brunswick, 10-2, and then held off Long County, 4-3, Monday evening at Wildcats Field behind a solid pitching performance from Adriana Williams.

The win over the Blue Tide marked the start of a busy week for the Wildcats who played at Brunswick on Wednesday and will host Glynn Academy on Thursday before playing four straight road games.

Richmond Hill will open Region 1-7A play on Aug. 29 at Camden County and then host the Wildcats in a doubleheader two days later.

Jenkins said while it’s only three games he likes what he has seen of his new look team, especially the infield.

“I’m extremely pleased with what I’ve seen defensively,” Jenkins said. “When you have an inexperienced team like what we’re looking at to see them go out there and make routine play after routine play over the course of three games it’s very encouraging.

“I think we have made only one error and that’s impressive.”

Against the Tide the Wildcats lined up with Maggie Jenkins at first, Claire Wiard at second, Aubrey Ragins at third and Amani Stanley at shortstop. None of them were listed on last year’s varsity roster.

Ragins and Stanley, in particular, made several excellent plays on hard hit balls to the left side. Kylen Tucker-Flynn, Paloma Gullikson and Ella Pursley make up the outfield and combined they handled three chances flawlessly. Lily Welch is behind the plate.

“We like what we’ve seen of all four of them up to this point,” Jenkins said of the infield. “They’ve made all the plays. Amani is a senior and she has a very calming effect.”

Having a solid infield defensively is huge for the Wildcats, Jenkins explained, as Williams and fellow pitchers Addison Brooks and Bria Milledge are not overpowering. Williams, for example, struck out four and walked two against the Tide.

“They’re more location and movement,” Jenkins said. “We’re having to make 18-20 plays a game and we’re doing it. The hitting will come around.” The Wildcats got the first run of the game when Williams doubled to score Jenkins who had drawn a one-out walk. They added three in the fifth on a two-run single by Welch and Williams’ single.

Long County, held to two hits over the first five innings, scored three in the sixth on three hits and had the tying run on third when Williams caught a one-hopper back to the mound and tossed it to Jenkins to end the threat.

The schedule: 

Aug. 8: Effingham County, 0-11; 10: Brunswick, 10-3; 14: Long County, 4-3; 16: at Brunswick; 17: Glynn Academy; 22: at Savannah Christian; 23: at Long County; 24: at Southeast Bulloch; 29: at Camden County*; 31: Camden County (DH)*, 4 p.m.

Sept. 6: Southeast Bulloch; 7: at Glynn Academy; 8: vs. Madison County at Harlem 8: vs. Hephzibah; 8: vs. Effingham County; 12: at South Effingham; 13: at Bryan County; 14: Bryan County; 18: Effingham County; 19: Valdosta*; 21: at Valdosta (DH)*; 26: Lowndes*; 28: at Lowndes (DH)*.

Oct. 3: at Colquitt County*; 5: Colquitt County (DH)*, 4 p.m.

*--Region 1-7A game.

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