By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON — Tape-measured home runs will always be welcomed, but South Effingham softball coach Jessica Evans doesn't mind traveling 60 feet at a time.
One batter. Let’s get to first base, the distance of 60 feet. Then move up another 60 feet with the next batter and eventually make an opponent deal with more traffic than a pedestrian at an Abercorn intersection.
“We have a saying, ‘Keep your foot on the gas,’” said Evans, whose young Mustangs are hardly showing signs of slowing down after running over their fifth straight Region 2-AAAAAA opponent, visiting Glynn Academy, 8-0 in six innings Thursday night.
It was the Mustangs’ fourth region win shortened by the mercy rule — ironically accomplished with a lead widened by taking a simple approach of moving runners along and putting pressure on the defense.
South (11-3, 5-0 Region 2-AAAAAA) had only two extra-base hits against the Terrors, but seven singles (two infield singles), four sacrifice bunts (twice runners reaching safely), five batters hit by pitches, three walks and an error did the bulk of the damage.
“When you’re a young ball club, you’re not always swinging the bat well so you have to find other ways to get people on base and other ways to move them,” Evans said. “The one thing we’ve instilled in the girls is, we’re not asking you to swing for the fences. Your job doesn’t have to be hero of the day. If we make our at-bats count, we’ll rattle people’s defenses.”
Chloe Turner’s long, solo home run, clearing the students’ impromptu truck stop beyond the left-field fence, made a loud rattle in the sixth inning.
But South’s first run in the third inning was more typical of the team’s run production. Bailey Kendziorski turned a short flyball that grazed the right fielder’s mitt into a lead-off triple. Avery Roddenberry walked and continued straight to second, knowing the Terrors would be afraid to throw to second.
Whitney Thompson followed with a bunt. The play to the plate was late, and Thompson never stopped running before reaching second.
Basically, SEHS runners advanced four bases on a ball that didn’t travel 14 feet.
“Once (defenses) make a mistake, it’s our job to capitalize,” said Evans, whose squad has outscored region opponents 42-4 in five games.
In the sixth inning, freshman Kenzie Ergle had a memorable at bat, fouling off several 3-2 pitches, before drawing a two-out, bases-loaded walk to make it 4-0. The next two batters were hit by pitches to drive in two more runs and Roddenberry’s two-run single finished the Terrors.
At the end of the day, Mustangs trainers were summoned for a bag of ice — for the arm of Glynn’s pitcher Kamila Vicente, who threw more than 130 pitches.
Meanwhile, South’s stingy sophomore pitcher Kendziorski made Glynn earn just about everything. The Terrors finished with four hits, but had only one baserunner get as far as second.
Kendziorski struck out six and walked none. And a solid Mustangs defense didn’t make an error.
“We know BK (Kendziorski) and our staff are going to keep (opposing) runs down,” Evans said. “Our rule is to score three runs every game and it doesn’t matter how we get to those three runs.”