South Effingham’s softball team can breath a collective sigh of relief. A second win is in the ledger column, only this time in the subregion standings.
The Lady Mustangs defeated Richmond Hill 7-1 to improve to 2-7 overall and 1-0 in Region 3-AAA (A).
South Effingham head coach Donnie Ussery said he talked with his assistants about shuffling the lineup to take some stress off his batters.
“I think they were trying too hard,” Ussery said about his players. “I put them in some less pressure areas and had them relax a little bit. I think that was key.”
Among the changes, Katie Rietkovich moved to the leadoff position, Ciara Knowles went to the No. 7 hole and Meagan Romano moved to the ninth spot.
In addition to the lineup change, the Lady Mustangs had an excellent practice on Wednesday, which helped them in Thursday’s win.
“Our hitting problems have been mental,” Ussery said. Today (Thursday), we came out ready to play. It wasn’t perfect, but better.”
South Effingham’s batters were confident at the plate and took advantage of several Richmond Hill errors in the win.
The Lady Wildcats had a difficult time handling the ball, committing five errors leading to six South Effingham runs.
“Good teams take advantage of mistakes,” Ussery said. “We took advantage of our opponent’s mistakes and I was real pleased with that.”
Meanwhile, South Effingham pitcher Allison Kirkland had a great day in the circle. She hit her spots nearly all the time, and the defense backed her up, limiting Richmond Hill to only five base runners.
Kirkland, with the guidance of catcher Crystal Sellers, struck out 13 batters.
“I was proud of Allison and my catcher Sellers,” Ussery said. “It makes me feel good to see Allison throw like that. She has the ability to shut people out and then that makes our hitters less stressed.”
“I can’t even explain it,” Kirkland said. “This is great and I just want to keep the momentum going.”
The Lady Mustangs wasted no time getting on the board, striking for three runs in the first inning. With one out, Joni Lynn hit a single down the left field line, scoring Alexis Mercer from second base. Lynn and Sellers later scored off Richmond Hill errors.
The Lady Mustangs tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Sellers hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Meagan Romano. Rietkovich scored off an error, then Austin Oglesby knocked in Mercer with a single and Lynn later scored off a Richmond Hill error.
The Lady Wildcats’ sole run came in the sixth inning when Tyler Carlson scored off an error.
Before the varsity game, the Lady Mustangs junior varsity squad defeated Richmond Hill’s JV team 15-1.
South Effingham resumes subregion play at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, hosting St. Vincent’s.