SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County’s softball team has only a few miles to go to reach its season-long goal.
The Lady Rebels (21-6) are one best-of-three series win away from qualifying for this weekend’s Class AAAAAA tournament in Columbus. They have to go through Pope (22-6) in Marietta to get there. They will open a series against the Lady Greyhounds on Tuesday.
Effingham County earned its date with Pope by knocking out North Atlanta (19-13) and Grovetown (16-17) last week.
The opening-round series against Grovetown proved to be difficult. After dropping the Oct. 20 opener at Rebel Field 4-0, Effingham County recovered to win the next two games 8-1 and 11-4.
“It’s exciting when that happens,” Lady Rebels head coach Jane Trzaska said after seeing her team’s bats come alive after a string of quiet games. “I had confidence in our girls that we would turn it around. I think the last two nights (the 8-1 and 11-4 wins) proved that we can hit the ball and do what is necessary to win ballgames.”
Julia Carter handled the pitching end for Effingham County in Game 3 against Grovetown. There was no shout of jubilation from her after it was over. All she said was, “I’m tired.”
And why wouldn’t she be? Carter hurled 133 pitches, including 83 for strikes. She allowed six hits, two earned runs and fanned 10.
Caleigh Eubanks supported Carter with a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
“She was fired up after that,” Trzaska said. “I sure was, too.”
It was the second homer of Eubanks’ career. The first came a week earlier in the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament against Glynn Academy. Her walkoff blast in the eighth inning powered the Lady Rebels to a 3-2 win.
Rylee Mills was also a powerhouse at the plate in Game 3 against Grovetown, socking four hits, scoring twice and drive in three runs.
Addie Reynolds and Jennie Edinger also had two hits each for Effingham County.
“We didn’t play our best in the first game (against Grovetown),” Trzaska said.
“We just told the girls, ‘Girls, there’s nothing to lose here. Let’s just go out and play our game. Play like we know how.’
“They certainly did that in the second game. They played like we have been playing all year. It was exactly what we were looking for and they came out and played the same way today.”
In the opener at North Atlanta on Thursday, the Lady Rebels broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning. Enna Lackey drove in Lauryn Wilson with a fielder’s choice grounder and Reynolds blasted an RBI single that plated Morgan Coleman.
Carter went the distance in the circle, logging 10 strikeouts. She surrendered only four hits.
In the second game, — a no-hitter by Mills — the Lady Rebels tallied all their runs in the fourth frame. They reached base 14 straight times without making an out.
Edinger started the rally with a home run. Mills and Coleman contributed doubles during the 11-hit outburst.