South Effingham High School softball coach Donnie Ussery’s job became more difficult, and that’s the way he likes it.
All 13 of his players contributed in the team’s 4-1 scrimmage win over Savannah Christian at Lady Mustang Field Friday. Now, making a starting lineup for Friday’s season opener against intra-county rival Effingham County is going to be a challenge.
“We had contributions from everybody, and that was a big thing,” Ussery said. “Our job as coaches gets harder and harder because all 13 contributed tonight. That’s what I was looking for.”
The main position up for grabs is left field, and Ussery has discovered he has two solid players vying for the position.
Laura Bryant and Lindsey Brichachek each played good defense in left. At the plate, Bryant went 1-for-3 and Brichachek went 1-for-1 with an RBI and scored a run.
Other players competing for playing time, who did not start last year, include center fielder Megan Romano and catcher/infielder Maria Godinez. Both played solid defense.
“Nobody budged,” Ussery said. “That’s going to help us. Everyone wants to contribute. Whoever I put in there played good defense.”
Casey Johnson, who pitched for the junior varsity team last year, proved she could handle varsity competition. Ussery gave her the ball first.
She did not allow any runs, hits or walks in her three innings of work and struck out three batters.
Ussery believes Johnson’s different style will complement his other two pitchers, Allison Kirkland and Sally Faircloth.
“She’s a different pitcher than the others because she changes speeds more, uses the corners and is not overpowering,” he said. “She has unbelievable movement on the ball. It’s there and then it’s not. She will be a big help for us, especially against very aggressive teams.”
Johnson, a junior, was excited to be back on the field.
“I’m real excited to get back to the season,” she said. “I felt really comfortable today and I had a good defense behind me.”
Kirkland, the team’s ace, came in the fourth inning and pitched two innings to earn the win. She retired the Lady Red Raiders in order, while striking out two.
Sally Faircloth closed out the game, pitching the final two innings. She allowed a run and two hits.
The Lady Mustangs struck early, scoring a run in the first inning.
Crystal Sellers worked a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored off Joni Lynn’s single to right-center field.
Savannah Christian pitcher Emily Corish held the Lady Mustang batters in check over the next four innings, allowing only one hit.
The heat and humidity, however, seemed to have tired Corish, and the Lady Mustangs took advantage of a sluggish pitcher and a throwing error from the shortstop in the sixth inning to tack on three runs.
With one out, Lynn got on base from the error and advanced to second after the ball ricocheted off the South Effingham dugout. Johnson moved her over to third and she scored off Lynn’s single to right field.
Next, Johnson moved to third and Lynn moved to second off a wild pitch. Austin Oglesby cleared the table with a line drive to right centerfield.