When it comes to the biggest prizes, there’s really only one season — the postseason.
That’s when region and state glory are finally in reach.
And Madison County’s softball program has collected its share of postseason hardware over the years under head coach Doug Kesler.
The veteran coach’s squad wraps up its regular season today (Thursday) at Oconee County. Then the real fun begins — the region tournament. Madison County stormed through the Region 8-AAAA regular season unscathed and now enters the region tournament as the number one seed.
The Red Raiders will hit the field at home Saturday at 11 a.m. against the winner of the four and five seed matchup between Lanier and Eastside. Madison County will play again Monday at home in the best of three series, if necessary.
“We’re just trying to fine tune our game and get ready,” said Kesler, whose squad played Monday at Elbert County and was slated to host North Oconee Wednesday after press time. The team also downed Lumpkin County last Thursday.
Here’s a recap of recent action:
MADISON COUNTY 12 ELBERT COUNTY 3
Madison County traveled down Hwy. 72 Monday to visit Elbert County. The Red Raiders fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but bounced back with five runs in the top of the second to cruise to a 12-3 win.
Madison County added one run in the third, four in the fourth and two in the seventh, while Elbert tacked on two in the fourth.
Danielle Lukas led the Red Raiders at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBIs. Haley Gordon was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Ivie Drake was 2-for-5 with an RBI and Jessica Allen was also 2-for-5. Kayla Argo, Courtney Alexander and Jorden Williams each had a hit.
Randee Bettis started for Madison County, giving up a run and three hits, while striking out four. Lukas pitched four innings in relief, giving up two unearned runs and two hits, while striking out two.
MADISON COUNTY 4 LUMPKIN COUNTY 2
Only two things went wrong for Coach Kesler in last Thursday’s region win over Lumpkin County. Both happened in the first inning after Lumpkin’s Whitney Brown fouled off a pitch that shattered Kesler’s side view mirror on his truck.
Two pitches later, Brown homered to left center field to give Lumpkin County an early 2-0 lead. From that point on, Kesler’s worries ended as the Raiders rebounded to defeat Lumpkin County 4-2 giving Madison County an 8-0 region record and first seed in the upcoming region tournament.
Kelser turned to his sophomore Alexis Damron, who entered the game in relief of Bettis, to shut down the Lumpkin County offense. Damron pitched an outstanding game, retiring seven batters on strikeouts in 5 and two-thirds innings of work. Damron allowed just two hits for the remainder of the game. Bettis ran into trouble after pitching one and a third inning, allowing two runs on two hits, all of which came in the first inning.
Lumpkin County got back to back walks in the second inning prior to Bettis’ departure. Damron entered the game in time to get Lumpkin County to hit into a double play to end the inning. That would be Lumpkin County’s final threat of the night as Damron buckled in and went to work.
The Raiders pushed across the tying runs in the bottom of the third inning. Gordon got the rally started by reaching after Lumpkin’s catcher failed to handle a third strike pitch. Gordon worked her way around the bases and ended up scoring Madison County’s first run on a wild pitch. Drake, who singled, ended up scoring the tying run on a sacrifice bunt by Bri Carr.
Madison County attempted to take the lead in the fourth inning after Abby Morgan reached on an error and Jessica Allen walked, but both runners were left hanging when the inning closed. The Raiders pulled ahead in the fifth inning with two runs to tie the game. Haley Gordon lined a single to center field and Ivie Drake singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. On a steal attempt to second base by Drake, Lumpkin’s catcher Whitney Brown air-mailed the throw into center field allowing Gordon to score the go-ahead run. Drake advanced to third on the error and ended up scoring on a squeeze bunt by Dani Lukas for the 4-2 final lead.
Ivie Drake led the Raider offense with two hits followed by one hit each from Carr, Gordon, Lukas and Williams.