Jackson County must recover from its first loss of the season in time for a huge rivalry game.
The Panthers (5-1-2, 4-1) fell 8-0 to North Oconee Tuesday, dropping it from the ranks of the unbeaten heading into a clash with nearby Jefferson (10-5-1, 4-1).
The teams, which haven’t played in years, are tied for second in the south subregion of 8-AA.
“Jefferson’s name alone stands for itself,” coach Lisa Robinson said last week of the Dragons.
In Tuesday’s loss North Oconee, Jackson County hung with Class AA’s no. 3 team for three innings but stumbled in the fourth inning, giving up five two-out runs to the subregion leaders.
North Oconee tacked on two more runs in the top of the sixth and another in the top of the seventh.
Jackson County won five days earlier, beating new rival East Jackson 2-1 last Thursday, but the region win wasn’t overly satisfying for Robinson.
“The victory over East wasn’t pretty,” she said. “We came out with a 2-1 win, but in all honesty we had no hits in the game.”
Specifically, Robinson said Jackson County couldn’t get its bunts down, which is crucial to the Panthers’ short game.
But the team was able to manufacture runs off Eagle mistakes. With runners on, Haley Shinall reached base in the fifth inning off an error to bring home Jackson County’s two runs.
On the mound, Kortnee Satterfield threw a four-hit complete game for the victory.
Defensively, the Panthers played well enough to win.
“We had two errors total in the game, which isn’t bad, but we tell the girls all the time — when our offense isn’t working, our defense has to be flawless,” Robinson explained.
Robinson noted that East Jackson out-hit the Panthers, which she called “frustrating.”
“They say a win is a win, but we still aren’t playing up to the expectations we have or the potential for this team,” Robinson said.
Robinson wished that her team’s pre-region schedule would have left it better prepared.
“I honestly feel a little cheated in preparing for the season with the Mill Creek tournament rain out,” Robinson said. “We missed out on games that could’ve prepped us before we got into region play, to work out kinks and fill holes.”
But Robinson still sees a lot upswing to this team once it fulfills its potential. When that happens, Jackson County will be a force to be reckoned with, she said.
“At this point, I have to wonder what the score will be when we play the way we are capable of - when and if the score in games reflects our talent and ability, our opponents won’t have a chance,” Robinson said.