The Red Raider softball team will pack their bags for Columbus this weekend, hoping that this is the first of two trips to the west Georgia city.
Madison County will face South Gwinnett and Starrs Mill Friday in the first round of the Shaw Invitational in Columbus, the home of the annual state softball finals. The team from Danielsville will then face either Lowndes or Etowah on Saturday in the five-game tournament.
Red Raider head coach Doug Kesler said the Shaw Invitational will be a good test for his young team, which includes just two seniors.
“There are pretty good schools in the tournament,” said Kesler. “We get five games down there. So hopefully, we’ll get some things on track and headed in the right direction.”
Of course, the Red Raiders haven’t exactly struggled so far in 2011, compiling an overall 10-2 record.
“We’ve been winning, but we can be a lot more solid team,” said Kesler.
Madison County notched two more W’s in the victory column this past week, blanking Winder 4-0 Sept. 1 and slamming Salem 13-2 Sept. 6.
Randee Bettis shut down the Bulldoggs of Winder last Thursday, giving up just three hits, while fanning six. Sam LaZear and Ivie Drake both turned in two-hit performances at the plate.
“I felt like we played pretty good,” said Kesler of the Winder game. “We only made one error on the day. We had a lot of base runners and opportunities to score some runs. We’ve just got to get better each game.”
Against Salem, the Red Raiders smacked 14 hits. LaZear and Drake again led Madison County, with three hits apiece. Bettis and Bri Carr each had two hits. Gabby Gillespie went the distance for the Red Raiders, fanning five in seven innings.
“I thought we played well,” said Kesler. “We scored four in the top of the first. And that was big for us, getting on top early.”