DOWN TO THE WIRE: GA, BHS softball open City Championships with excitement

·6 min read

Aug. 9—With school officially back in session, the fall sports season has taken over the calendar for local fans, parents, and athletes looking to support their schools.

The first showdown of the 2022-23 school year for the City Championship went down on the softball diamond at Brunswick High.

Having played two games already, and sitting at 1-1 under new head coach Rayven Riggs, the Lady Pirates jumped out to a quick lead against their rivals from Glynn Academy.

Scoring four runs with two outs in the bottom of the first, the Brunswick half of the stands were cheering heavily for their Lady Pirates as they cruised to an early lead.

Keeping their rivals at bay with a lot of swings and misses, Riggs liked what she saw from Mac Rauscher in the circle all night long.

"Oh I loved every second of her," Riggs said. "I think she did a wonderful job. A job that should have won a ball game."

Glynn's head coach Dawn Ketcham stuck with her freshman pitcher Gigi Smiley on the mound, and she was able to keep the game at bay with three strikeouts and help from her teammates on the field.

"I liked that when I gave her some constructive feedback she was saying 'Yes ma'am, yes ma'am,'" Ketcham said. "When she wasn't getting it done with her bat, she was fine with bunting, which was outstanding. That was great. She is hardworking and a ball player, ball player. Being a freshman and starting on the mound in her first game, I'm sure there were a lot of jitters, but she did great."

Finding themselves down 6-4 with five outs to play, Glynn Academy's offense locked in and delivered a classic.

Junior right fielder Miriam Doering got the rally going with a single to the outfield and after consecutive bunts by Smiley and Katie Wagner, the Lady Terrors loaded the bases and were ready to strike.

Ava Dunham stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, not only hoping to cut the deficit at the plate but to bring herself back into the game in the circle with strutting confidence. Dunham drilled a bases-clearing double to the outfield wall, not without some controversy.

As Durham made her way to second base, Ketcham sent Wagner to try and tie the game up. Wagner was thrown out at the plate by a few good feet, but Ketcham knew what she was doing.

"As soon as I saw the official's arm go out I knew there was an obstruction," Ketcham said of the play. "So I knew that if (Wagner) was thrown out going home, she wasn't out. That's why I took that risk. Apparently there was a double obstruction on the play, I don't know if that's such a thing. The second basemen got in her way first which caused an obstruction, and then she got tripped by the shortstop at second base, which was another obstruction.

"So I don't know if that was the call or the obstruction at the base because she would have easily had third, so we went home. I'm not really sure how it all happened but I'll take it....As soon as I saw that hand I said, "we are going."

With the call in favor of Glynn, half of the stands erupted and half jeered at the call to allow Wagner to get the tying run and not be stuck at third.

Glynn grabbed the lead for the first time in the inning after a two-out single by Alexis Knowlton to bring the rally full circle.

The excitement levels continued to rise in the evening lights around the City Championship Series, with the Lady Pirates roughing up Dunham to load the bases with no outs.

However, the Lady Terrors put up their best defensive shift with three force outs at home plate to keep their one run lead heading into the final inning.

Continuing to ride the momentum shift, Glynn continued to put balls in play against Brunswick's Rauscher and capitalized on mistakes in the field of play. Two fielding errors and a hit batter loaded the bases for Wagner as the Lady Terrors held a 9-7 lead. Wagner hit a ground ball to Brunswick's Emmie Chance at short, but a third fielding error of the inning allowed two more runners to score to expand the lead to four.

A double play with a mistake on the base paths kept Glynn from scoring more runs, but a four run lead would quickly evaporate.

Just as they did in the bottom half of the sixth, Brunswick loaded the bases on Dunham. This time, the Lady Pirates would put runs on the board on an error to score two runs on Anna Kate Owens at-bat. This forced Ketcham to make a pitching change to keep the lead and hold on to the win.

Knowlton took over for the Lady Terrors and with no outs and the tying runner on third and the winning runner on second, the senior stepped up.

Forcing a shallow pop out to center, and the runners staying put, Knowlton struck out the final two batters for Brunswick High to hold on to the 11-10 lead.

Celebrating with her team, Knowlton yelled out in joy to give the Lady Terrors a win in the teams first game of the season.

"The positive for me, and i told them about it was they never gave up. I told them, 'Girls you kept working and chopping away, two runs here and there and we finally worked our spot and got to 11 runs.' There is no way in the game of softball should you have 11 runs in the ball game and have a close ball game. We have to tighten this defense up. But positively, you didn't give up on each other and you didn't give up on the game, you guys kept working. I can ask for anything better than that.' I'm going to at practice, but that's besides the point."

For the Lady Pirates, they will look to move on from the rivalry loss and put all of their focus to two important region games against Effingham County at home on Thursday.

"I can say I'm proud of my team for fighting hard through to the very end and the last out," Riggs said. "We can't win if we can't play defense. But we are going to come back Thursday when we play Effingham County, and we will have that down."