In a region that’s often decided by one-run games, the Madison County High School softball team has proved its mettle so far in pressure situations.
The Raiders (8-1, 1-0) beat Habersham Central 2-1 Tuesday in nine innings for their second extra-inning victory this year against an 8-AAAA foe.
Madison County got a bunt hit from Olivia Duncan to put runners at first and third in the bottom of the ninth and scored the game-winner off a wild pitch one batter later. The victory moved the Raiders to 1-0 in subregion play.
“We’re able to execute the little things, like getting the bunts down,” coach Doug Kesler said. “It makes a huge difference when you can do those things.”
Erin Gibson threw all nine innings to earn the victory Tuesday, surrendering four hits and one earned run.
Habersham Central took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, but Madison County answered with an RBI single from Haley Peeples in the bottom half of the inning.
The game stood deadlocked for the next six innings until pinch runner Emily Mann — who started the ninth inning at second base (a tiebreaker rule in softball) — scored the game-winning run off the Habersham wild pitch.
Madison County already owns two victories over teams from the other side of the region. The Raiders opened the season with a 9-7 victory over Heritage Aug. 17 in eight innings. They also won a one-run affair over Loganville Aug. 18, 4-3.
Madison County’s victory over Habersham sets up a huge early season subregion matchup today (Thursday) at Apalachee.
The Wildcats won the north subregion last year.
“We start off with the two best teams right off the bat,” Kesler said. “If we can win that one (today), we’ll kind of be in the driver’s seat.”
Prior to the Habersham Central win, Madison County went 5-1 and finished as runners-up in the gold division of its own Leadoff Classic at the Madison County Recreation Department.
“It was a good weekend for us,” Kesler said.
The one blemish was Madison County’s first loss of the season. The Raiders fell 4-1 to North Oconee in the fifth game of the tournament.
But Kesler called his team’s 14-2 win over Franklin County in the fourth game its “most complete game so far.”
The Leadoff Classic offered him plenty to assess.
“That’s why it’s so good to play that tournament early,” he said. “You not only get to see good things, but you get to see things that you need to work on.”