What was turning into a thrilling finish to the highly-anticipated Region 5-AA opener between the Heard County and Bremen high school softball teams on Tuesday was promptly interrupted by Mother Nature, ultimately resulting in a win for the Maroon and White.
Leading 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Braves (5-1, 1-0 Region 5-AA) saw their advantage come into jeopardy when the Lady Blue Devils (4-4, 0-1) plated a run and had the bases loaded with no outs.
However, a sudden downpour of rain forced stoppage in play of the league opener. After an hour of Bremen coaches and players working to get the muddy infield back into proper playing conditions, officials finally called the contest, awarding Heard with the 6-5 victory.
HC head coach Matt Hornsby spoke afterwards of his team’s first region ‘W’ of the season and the resiliency of their opponent.
“It was a good region win. If the rain didn’t come, it probably would’ve been a different ballgame, for sure. They loaded the bases before the downpour and that shows that they’re not going to give up,” Hornsby said. “We’re glad they’re back in our region because whether you come out on top or not, you need to play those games as many times as you can during the season just to get you ready for the playoffs. You have to find out who’s tough and who’s not and they’re going to be a tough squad.”
Tied 2-2 in the top of the fifth, Tori Caldwell sparked the rally for the Lady Braves by reaching second off an infield error. After Emma Helton drew a walk, BHS elected to intentionally walk Janiyah Strong with two outs.
That’s when left fielder Marissa Garza struck big, smashing a two-out grand slam to put the visitors on top, 6-2.
“That’s what we talk about. You got to have people pick you up,” Hornsby said. “They’re not going to pitch to every person at times depending on who’s hot, so we have to have the next person step up. It’s nice to have that depth and those options there.”
But the Lady Blue Devils had an answer of their own.
With two outs and pinch-runner Jordan Pope on second, senior Micaela Quesada slapped a two-run shot over left to bring the home team back within two.
With the rain starting to come in the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Blue Devils managed to push a run across and have the bases juiced with freshman Ella Harrod set to come up to the plate. That’s when the afternoon shower struck at the worst possible time for Bremen, forcing an end to the region bout.
“We did a really good job of fighting back with the huge home run by Micaela Quesada getting us back in it. We started to gain a little bit of confidence and that’s really what we needed. We needed that confidence to believe in ourselves that we need to come back and play with one of the better teams in our region,” said first-year BHS head coach Mickey Harper. “The way it ended was sad for us and frustrating, but we learned to fight and I’m very proud of my kids. It’s a loss in the scorebook, but it’s a gain in us coming together as a family and a team.”
Harper and his ballclub will next travel to the University of North Georgia on Saturday for a pair of non-region battles with Parkview and West Forsyth.
“Those are two non-region games where we can try to learn a little bit more before we get deep into the region schedule,” Harper said.
Meanwhile, Heard County will be back in action this afternoon at 5:55 p.m. for its home opener versus Northgate.
“I hope that we don’t have an excited hangover where we’re so pumped about this big region win that we can’t bounce back (today),” Hornsby said. “It’s our home opener, so we need to play like we need to in order to show the home crowd what we’re made of.”