The game’s outcome was all but determined but there was still the business of getting the final three outs.
Apalachee High School ace pitcher Becca Meade took the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning against Loganville High School last Thursday night and calmly went about her business.
The first LHS batter grounded out to Lady Wildcat Holly Janco at shortstop. Meade then struck out the second batter. A pop out to second baseman Brianna Bryson sealed the victory and the Region 8-AAAAA championship for AHS. The celebration was on.
It has been quite a season for the Lady Wildcats who won their first softball region title in program history. It has been quite an experience as well for new head coach Matt Allen, who was hired to direct the program during the offseason.
“Even when we got a big lead I didn’t want to look at the scoreboard,” Allen said. “I knew Loganville was a good offensive team and anything could still happen. However, our players went out and got the job done. This is probably our best performance of the season and it came at the right time.”
Defeating LHS in softball on the Lady Red Devils home field is not an easy task. LHS plays aggressive and often tries to pound opponents into submission. However, the AHS softball team overcame that home field advantage and took the fight to LHS. When all was said and done, there was not doubt who the better team was on this occasion.
The Lady Wildcats took away any doubt and was not going to let one play or one call by an umpire stop them from their goal. When you build an eight-run cushion, one play or one call is never going to defeat you.
“We were talking before the game about how we felt this place is cursed,” said Meade, who has been a steady leader in the pitcher’s circle for the AHS fast-pitch softball team throughout her career. “We broke that curse tonight.”
It’s not as easy as some people may think for a softball team to adapt to a new head coach. All coaches have different tendencies and go about things differently. Allen is no exception and he admitted there was an adjustment period.
“We’ve had players at positions they’ve never been at before,” the coach said. “However, we have everyone on the same page and we are showing just how strong of a team we are. Our players deserve credit for battling through everything that has been put before them from dealing with a new coach to competing in a tough region to winning the championship.”
While the Lady Wildcats have met some of their goals already, there remains plenty in front of this group.
AHS will be able to play the first two rounds of state at home. Just like other sports, home field advantage does mean a great deal in fast-pitch softball.
It was a special night for the Lady Wildcats on Oct. 9 in Loganville. The players were determined to win the region championship trophy and that’s exactly what they did. The odds may have been against AHS, but the players didn’t let them prevent them from doing what needed to be done in order to lift the trophy in the air.
Something tells me this group of players is not going to be satisfied with just a region title. Bigger and better things could very well be in store for this team.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.