Richmond Hill and Bryan County flexed their muscles and rolled easily into the second round of the GHSA State Softball Playoffs this week with wins.
Katie Rearley beat one-hitters in a row on Tuesday and the Wildcats continued their success late season to beat the overtaken Tuckers 8-0 and 11-0 at Wildcats Field. Richmond Hill (16-8) will be at No. Play 3 Dacula (19-5).
A day later, Hayden Joyner played a perfect game in the opening game and came back with a three-hitter in game two, while Bekah Johnson flexed the muscles to lead Bryan County to 9-0 and 12-0 wins over Seminole County (21.7).
Bryan County (15-5), who finished third in the Class A tournament last year, will also face a tough test in his next round when it comes to Macon to face Ace Charter (25-0). The Gryphons are the number 1 and the only undefeated team in the state.
Richmond Hill finished fourth in Region 2 in the regular season but was given the right to play at home when he finished second behind Effingham County in the regional tournament.
The Wildcats have now won four of their last five games, scoring 60 hits as a team during that stretch, with Rearley turning off the lights.
Rearley, plagued by a high ankle sprain early in the season, is in a hot phase. In three regional tournament games and the two against Tucker, the senior is 3-1 with a 0.078 ERA and a WHIP of 0.7407. In her last 27 innings, she has struck out 47 while running four and giving up 16 hits.
More wild cats:Richmond Hill pitcher Katie Rearley at full speed en route to the State Softball Playoffs
The team’s game comes as no surprise to first-year coach Chris Jenkins, who has led Richmond Hill for the third straight round in the second round.
“We felt like we had a special group in July,” said Jenkins. “Everything we’ve done works towards October.
“Look at what we’ve been doing for the past four or five weeks,” Jenkins said. “In every game we lost, we went to the last out or the last inning.
“The girls are coachable and do what it takes to win. They never questioned what we do. They are really nice kids. Good children. “
Seniors Avery Fisher, Daisy Avery, and Allie Washington led the attack on the unsuspecting Tucker.
Fisher was 7 for 7 in the two games with seven RBI. She had a total of 14 bases when she homered, tripled, and had two doubles with three singles.
Daisy Avery, a slap hitting specialist, was 6 for 6 and scored five runs as she raised her batting average to a team-leading .491. Washington ran their hitting streak on 11 straight games and wasted no time settling the second game when they hit a triple homer in the first inning.
Fisher and Washington both said that playing at Dacula is a tough challenge but doesn’t make her shiver in her boots.
“We played it in the second round when we were still in our sophomore year,” said Washington. “We know who they are. They are a good team, but we play well and with confidence.
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“Our team chemistry is really good. That is probably the biggest difference between last and this year. “
Playing away, said Fisher, seems to get the most out of the Wildcats. Nine of her victories have been taken on the road.
“It feels good to be playing at home in front of family and friends,” said Daisy Avery. “But I have the feeling that we play better on the road. We like to annoy the people in their place. “
If Bryan County is to re-run the Final Four, it has to be street warriors. If the momentum from Seminole County (21-7) is any indication, the roster is up to the task.
In her first game win against the Indians, left-handed Johnson continued her stellar season by scoring two home runs and six runs from her starting position. She had a double homer in the second inning and crowned her day with a bases-loaded shot in the fifth.
Hit parade:Bryan County softball star Bekah Johnson sets the bar high and hits it
Johnson was 1: 2 in the second game. At the end of the day, she beat .645 with nine home runs and 41 RBI.
Joyner, now 44-10 for her career and a junior like Johnson, didn’t take a hit in the two games. She allowed three hits in the second game, all in the first inning, and helped with a double single on her own.
Mackensie Bailey and Amber Gray each had two hits in the first game. Bryan County only managed seven hits in the second game but was aided by five Indian mistakes in a competition limited to four innings. With a 1-0 lead, Bryan County scored five runs in the third and finished six runs in the fourth.