By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
South Effingham, Effingham dominate Region 2-AAAAAA softball honors
Pictured, left to right: Caleigh Eubanks (2nd team IF), Ava Wingate (1st team pitcher), Megan Coleman (honorable mention IF), Olivia Morgan (1st team IF), Morgan Coleman (2nd team OF), Shelby Aiken (1st team OF), Lauryn Wilson (2nd team catcher), Emma Reynolds (2nd team IF) and Rylee Mills (Region Player of the Year). - photo by Photo submitted

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

South Effingham and Effingham County dominated the Region 2-AAAAAA softball season and, to no surprise, their players dominated the region’s postseason honors.

In a voting of region coaches, ECHS senior Rylee Mills claimed the Player of the Year award while SEHS junior Bailey Kendziorski was the Pitcher of the Year.

Rebels outfielder Shelby Aiken, shortstop Olivia Morgan and pitcher Ava Wingate and Mustangs shortstop Kenzie Ergle, third baseman Whitney Thompson, second baseman Emma Darrow and catcher Jaden Burns were named first-team all-region.

Leading her team as a hitter and pitcher, Mills’ versatility helped ECHS finish second in Region 2, win its super regional in Alcovy and advance to Columbus – site of the eight-team, double-elimination state championship tournament.

Mills batted .461 with 15 doubles, three home runs and 39 runs batted in and registered a 12-4 record with a 1.68 earned run average.

“Rylee had an exceptional season and we rode her coattails to Columbus,” Rebels coach Brad Thompson said.

In Columbus, ECHS lost in the first round to eventual champion Pope, but Mills, throwing about 180 pitches, defeated Houston County in 12 innings in the second game before the Rebels were eliminated in the third game.

Mills is already committed to the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick.

Mills’ teammates also had big roles in the 27-win season. Aiken, who hit .376, was one of the best defensive center fielders in the area and Morgan, just a sophomore, was steady at shortstop while hitting .341.

Wingate pitched well in spot starts and compiled a 7-1 record with a 2.24 ERA.

Kendziorski led the Mustangs to a 26-win season, a region championship, a super regional sweep and a spot in Columbus. Blessed with pinpoint control, she compiled a 12-5 record with a 1.35 ERA, striking out 106 and walking just eight in 108.2 innings.

During a stretch of 63 innings (from Aug. 26 to Oct. 6), Kendziorski gave up only one earned run.

She had three no-hitters during the season, including a 4-0 no-hitter against Veterans High in Columbus.

Kendziorski, who had a .296 batting average, had a strong supporting cast. Darrow finished the season with an 18-game hitting streak and led the Mustangs with a .454 batting average.

Thompson hit .422 and paced the team in hits (46) and RBIs (31).

Ergle and Burns provided power in the middle of the lineup, hitting .358 and .344 respectively. Ergle, a sophomore, led the team with 14 extra-base hits (12 doubles, 2 triples).