There’s plenty of words one could use to describe a team off to a school-best 17-1 start.
Coach Doug Kesler likes “cenergetic.”
“Our whole is a lot better than our parts,” Kesler said. “We don’t have any stud players, but we’ve got a bunch of good kids.”
Madison County’s best softball teams through the years haven’t boasted this kind of résumé after 18 games. The once-beaten Raiders, ranked no. 3 in Class AAAA, carry an 11-game winning streak into today’s (Thursday’s) game with Apalachee.
“We know that we’ve got a chance to win every game, but at the same time, we know what we’ve got to do to win the game,” Kesler said.
The Raiders, whose key subregion matchup Tuesday with Habersham Central was rained out, are coming off a 5-0 run in the always-tough Shaw Invitational.
Madison County beat Hardaway (8-0), Jordan (17-0), Cherokee (4-3) and Class AAAAA’s no. 3-ranked team Greenbrier (6-3) and then rallied to down Lowndes (6-5) to win the coveted gold division title.
“We’ve played in it several years, but we had never won it all … It was a big weekend for us,” Kesler said.
Madison County had to go through several larger classification schools to win the trophy.
“Saturday, we saw that we were playing three Class AAAAA teams, so that was exciting,” Kesler said. “That’s what we go down there for, to play good teams.”
But Kesler said his team will “hang its hat” on its 6-5 win over Class AAAAA Lowndes County in the championship game.
Due to time constraints, the sixth inning was the final inning, and Madison County trailed 5-4. But the Raiders tied the ballgame that inning and won in the tie-breaker in the seventh.
Leading hitters for the tournament were Sam LaZear, who went 11-for-18 and scored nine runs; Haley Peeples, who went 9-for-18 and scored five runs; and Olivia Duncan, who was 5-for-14. On the mound, Erin Gibson went 3-0 and Sarah Smith was 2-0.
Kesler said the team’s slappers and speed successfully put pressure on opposing defenses in the title run.
“All 14 players had a role over the weekend in the five wins,” Kesler said.