(Franklin, GA) — After remaining unranked by state pollsters through the first few weeks of the season, the Lady Brave varsity softball team vaulted to No. 4 earlier this week in the Score Atlanta week four rankings.
The Lady Braves (12-3, 5-0) were solid again last week picking up two easy region wins over Jordan at home on Wednesday and two more big wins Friday over non-region opponents at the Trojan Slam.
Coach Matt Hornsby’s young squad knocked off Class AAAAAAA Hillgrove 5-4 and Class AAA Pierce County 7-4 in Carrollton and are preparing for three of the toughest games on the schedule this week including two very important Region 5-AA clashes and another tilt versus the most highly-ranked team in the state regardless of classification, East Coweta.
Senior Lady Braves (L-R): Haley Bennett, Lora Glover, and Alexus Crawford
One plus for the Lady Braves in the three back-to-back games is they will host each of them on the campus of Heard High.
Defending Region 5-AA Champion Lamar County comes calling tomorrow as the Lady Braves look to improve an already perfect 5-0 mark in region play.
The Trojans (4-3, 2-1) have played a light schedule thus far and fell to the other major region title contender, Bremen 11-3 in Barnesville this week.
The Lady Blue Devils (10-8, 3-1) will be aiming for revenge after a close 6-4 home loss to the Lady Braves on August 21.
In that fierce early season battle, the Lady Devils had closed the gap to 6-5 were knocking on the door with the bases loaded and no outs when a pop-up rain shower officially ended the game with only six innings in the books.
In Wednesday’s match-up, the Lady Braves will welcome one of the hottest softball teams in the country in the form of the East Coweta Indians.
The Indians are not only ranked No. 1 in the state’s largest classification (AAAAAAA) in Georgia they are ranked No. 1 nationally by Max Preps.
The Indians have won 50 games in a row dating all the way back to 2016, the same year the Lady Braves upset them 2-0 and the last time the squads met in Franklin.
Then sophomore Lady Brave Haley Bennett pitched arguably the best game of her career on that day and she appeared to be regaining her best stuff in a solid outing versus Hillgrove Friday. The powerhouse Indians will present a tall task for the Lady Braves who start 3-4 freshman on the infield.
“We didn’t mean to schedule it that way but the last couple of weeks hasn’t been very tough,” Hornsby said following the Carrollton Tourney wins.
“It’s nice to get the wins but competition wise it hasn’t been the best for us, but I think these upcoming weeks might be the toughest September schedule we have had in several years. But I also think we have the team to play through it. We have 3-4 pitchers right now throwing as good as they have all year, and if we can bunt and hit like we did against Pierce tonight then that’s when we can be pretty scary as an offense.”
Hornsby says the pitching depth will be an important asset starting this week and especially in region play.
“Haley pitched well tonight against Hillgrove — it was probably her best game all year especially considering the line-up she was facing. Then we had Katelyn Jiles came in to finish both games out for us. I know Katelyn would love to start more games for us and she will start more games — but it is such an advantage to be able to bring her in games late and not have a drop-off from the starter that teams are normally expecting.”
Against Hillgrove, Bennett tossed six innings allowing seven hits and did not issue a walk while striking out three to earn the win. At the plate, Marissa Garza and Janiyah Strong led the way with two hits each. Garza batted in two while Abigail Lathrop and Emma Helton each drove home one.
Sydney Gay scored the win on the mound versus Pierce and led the way offensively with two hits and three RBI’s.
Bennett and Gay also earned wins in a doubleheader sweep of over-matched Jordan with each allowing no hits or walks over three innings of work.
Offensively in the sweep, several Lady Braves had big days including Taylor Paris who was 2-for-3 with three runs batted in and Mackenzie White who had two doubles and drove home one. Strong connected on her team high 7th homer of the season. Lathrop, Garza, Gay, and Beth Taylor also had multiple hit efforts.
Tomorrow’s home game versus Lamar and Thursday’s home game versus Bremen will each start at 5:30 PM. First pitch in Wednesday’s big match-up with East Coweta will begin with the first pitch at 6:00 PM. All three games will be at HCHS.