I tell the girls all the time, ‘You’ve got to push yourself beyond your expectations ...Lady Mustangs head coach Jessica Evans
GUYTON — South Effingham will have to tame a beastly team to continue its monstrous softball season.
The Lady Mustangs (27-2-1) will open a best-of-three Class AAAAAA playoff series against the Buford Lady Wolves (30-5) at 4 p.m.on Tuesday at The Corral. They earned the date with Buford by plucking the Northside-Warner Robins 6-2 and 11-0 on Thursday.
The site of the Buford series was determined by a coin flip at the Georgia High School Association office a few hours before the start of the Northside series.
“Sometimes things just fit into the puzzle,” South Effingham head coach Jessica Evans said after the Northside sweep. “The pieces are fitting in. We’ve just got to keep trucking.
“We are not giving up. We are not letting up on the girls.”
Evans gave the Lady Mustang some time off after beating Northside because it was homecoming week. Shortstop Alex Brown was one of the senior representatives.
Normally, as two of the eight teams still playing, South Effingham and Buford would meet in Columbus. This year, however, as COVID-19 precaution, only the final four teams qualify for Columbus, thereby creating an extra round to be played on school campuses.
“I get excited because we’ve have the opportunity to do something big, to do something that this town hasn’t done yet, and that’s what we’re pushing for,” Evans said. “I tell the girls all the time, ‘You’ve got to push yourself beyond your expectations ... ’”
The Lady Mustangs, sporting new all-black uniforms, pushed past the Lady Eagles fairly easily. They were able to give workhorse pitcher Bailey Kendziorski a break as Haylee Johnson closed the clinching game with a superb inning, allowing no hits with two strikeouts.
“That’s a great thing to have because we know in this next round we are really going to have to do some things that are not just our ordinary ball play,” Evans said. “I’ll be honest. I was very glad tonight that we saw a little bit of speed and movement (on pitches) because it really helped us to shy away a little bit from bunting and the small game, and opened up our big (hitting) game.”
The Lady Mustangs hammered the ball hard throughout their lineup. They compiled six doubles in the two games.
Avery Roddenberry and Chloe Turner socked doubles and collected an RBI in the first game against Northside. Caraline Stone, Sarah Messex and Kaley Stone also knocked in a run apiece.
South Effingham cruised into the second round by hammering Heritage-Conyers 10-1 and 8-0 in a best-of-three set on Oct. 19.
Heritage socked three hits in the first inning of the opening game to take a 1-0 lead. From that point, however, Kendziorski was in complete control. The Lady Patriots collected just three more hits during the next nine innings of the doubleheader.
Hot-hitting Caraline Stone paced the Lady Mustangs at the plate in the first game, ripping two hits and plating three runs. Whitney Thompson scored three runs and Brown and Avery Roddenberry each touched the plate twice.
Kaley Stone provided an offensive spark with two RBI.
In the second game, South Effingham scored at least one run in each of the five frames. Caraline Stone and Kendziorski each had two hits, and Brown, Emma Darrow and Peighton Capwell scored two runs apiece.
The Lady Mustangs totaled 17 stolen bases in the games against Heritage.