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SEHS' Kendziorski gives foes a steady stream of zeroes
Bailey Kendziorski
South Effingham right-hander Bailey Kendziorski continued her scoreless inning streak to 31 during an 8-0 win over Glynn Academy on Aug. 24. (Mark Lastinger/Special for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON – Bailey Kendziorski shrugged off Glynn Academy's second-inning threat Thursday night as if waving at a menacing gnat. First and second, no out? No problem.

"I trust my defense and I knew we just needed to make a couple of plays to get out of it," said the South Effingham right-hander, who proceeded to strike out the next three Red Terrors en route to an 8-0 victory.

South (12-2, 6-0 Region 2-6A) swept the Thursday doubleheader, then swept the three-game series and continued to look the part of a state softball contender in Class 6A.

Mustang fans have grown accustomed to Kendziorski's domination inside the circle. Since Day One, she's been the ace of a squad that has gone 77-18-1 and won two region championships during the past three years.

Now, the senior has out-done herself during the first month of the season.

She's won all seven of her starts. Three times, the opposing team didn't register a hit.

She has not surrendered a run in 31 innings and has given up only 12 hits and one walk while striking out 57.

Offensively, she hit her first home run ever in a 7-2 win over Savannah Christian.

"I think our energy has been great and that translates onto the field," Kendziorski said. "We've had a fantastic start and I think as long as we keep our energy up and keep improving, we can do great things this year."

Kendziorski displayed a simple approach against Glynn. Simple for her, the reigning Region 2 Pitcher of the Year, not so simple for everyone else. She mixed speeds and located pitches up and down, in and out.

The result – nine strikeouts, no walks, no baserunners got past second base. Only three balls were hit out of the infield in five innings.

"She's been impressive and when she's in the circle we feel pretty good about our chances to win," SEHS coach Adam Newland said.

So far, the Mustangs are batting 1.000.

But for a team that advanced to Columbus (home of the Elite Eight double-elimination tournament for the state championship) last season, August wins are nice but the big prize comes in October.

Newland has patiently alternated Kendziorski with Izzy Wilkins as his starting pitchers with hopes of developing a double threat on the mound and keeping the staff fresh for the potential long road ahead.

"It's hard to win a title with one pitcher," Newland said. "I think we're past that point (as a program), especially when you get in there with the (better teams), you just have to have other kids who can give you innings.

"We obviously don't want to end up in a situation where Bailey is throwing every inning. She will get tired or run out of gas or some team will figure out how to hit her, so it's good to have multiple arms to throw in the circle."

Kendziorski hasn't had many days off from pitching during her high school career, but she's onboard with the strategy.

"I'm glad when any pitcher gets an opportunity," she said. "Whoever's out there, I'm super proud they're getting the opportunity to show their stuff."