The Lady Knights opened up their 2014 softball season with a scheduled five-game tournament in Columbus at the Jordan High School Invitational. However, the fifth game on Saturday was canceled due to rain.
New coach Stephen Hammock and his Lady Knights took on Marion County in their first game of the season on Friday, defeating the team from Beuna Vista by a 12-0 score. Upson-Lee then followed up with two losses to Seminole County and Brookstone, before ending their tournament with an 11-6 victory over Northside-Warner Robins.
“It was great to play some meaningful games,” said Hammock. “I thought we hit the ball really well and learned a lot about ourselves and what we need to improve on to get better. I really like the way we competed out there this weekend. We just have to keep working everyday to get better.”
Lady Knights freshman Brianna Hendricks took the mound under an unusual circumstance, and delivered with a great outing.
“She was forced into a starting role at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances.” said Hammock. “I thought she pitched very well, kept them off balance, and hit her spots in the zone. To me it says a lot about her as a competitor to take the ball and step up without knowing she was going to pitch that game.”
The Lady Knights exploded for six runs in the bottom of the first inning, essentially sealing the game for the Lady Knights after just one frame. The Lady Knights also took advantage of three fielding errors by Marion County. The big blow in the inning came off the bat of Hendricks, who helped herself out with a two-RBI double. Hannah Watson also added a RBI in the inning.
After another perfect inning from Hendricks, the Lady Knights started back on the offensive again in the bottom of the second inning. Montana Schug doubled with one out in the inning, and later came home to score on a frozen line drive base knock from Hannah Watson. Freshman Olivia Lindsey followed with a solid base hit and later scored on a RBI triple from Vanessa Harp, giving the Lady Knights a 9-0 lead after two innings of play.
Marion County tallied their only hit of the game in the third inning, but with two outs and a runner on first, Hendricks retired the side with a strikeout.
Leading 9-0, the Lady Knights added three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Shimi Traylor, Mary Masdon McCrary and Bethany Smith all scored recorded base hits in the inning. Hannah Watson added her second base hit of the game, while also driving in two runs run.
Kaylee Ellington came in to retire the side in the bottom of the fourth inning, as the Lady Knights cruised to the 12-0 victory. Hannah Watson led the Lady Knights with two hits, a run scored, and 3 RBI. Every player who batted in the game for the Lady Knights tallied at least one hit.
In the second game of the tournament and of the night, the Lady Knights ran into Seminole County, suffering a 12-2 loss. The Lady Knights racked up nine hits in the game, but only managed two runs. McCrary scored in the first inning on a RBI double from Hannah Watson, while Bethany Smith added a single. Watson, one of the few seniors on the Knights squad, finished with five hits in 11 at bats during the tournament, batting for a .454 avg. Olivia Lindsey scored the other run in the game for the Lady Knights in the second inning, The freshman also had a very good showing in the tournament, tallying four hits in nine at bats.
The biggest problem for the Lady Knights in their loss to Seminole County was their defense. After zero errors in the first game of the tournament, the Lady Knights committed five errors in their loss to Seminole County.
On Saturday the Lady Knights were scheduled to play three games against Brookstone (Columbus), Northside Warner-Robins, and Johnson-Gainesville. Their game against Johnson-Gainesville was rained out.
Brookstone, a private school from Columbus, is a team which the Lady Knights will see two more times this season. The Lady Knights jumped out to 5 -0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Lady Knights only managed three hits in the game, but took advantage of three fielding error by Brookstone in the first inning. However, Brookstone scored at least two runs in every four of the six innings. The big blow came in the last two innings, when Brookstone scored five run on six hits, earning the 11-6 victory. The Lady Knights committed five errors in the game.
Chelsea Wainwright led the way for the Lady Knights with two hits, a run scored, and a RBI. Hannah Watson added the other hit for the Lady Knights, and drove in two runs.
In the Lady Knights’ fourth game of the tournament, they took on the Lady Eagles from Northside-Warner Robins. Upson-Lee bombarded NWSR for 12 hits and 11 runs. Montana Schug, Chelsea Wainwright, Olivia Lindsey, and Taylor King each led the way for Upson-Lee with two hits, while King added three runs scored and a RBI.
Mary Masdon McCrary, Rachel Bridges, Bethany Smith, and Kaylee Ellington all chipped in with one hit in the 11-6 victory.
“I was really impressed with my group of ninth graders”, said Hammock. “They really stepped up and played like they have been their before. We also had two players which did not play on Friday due to a family illness, but they showed up on Saturday and played very well, which shows me they are dedicated to this team, and I am very appreciative of that dedication.”
The Lady Knights will travel to Clayton County to take on the Lady Tigers from Mundy’s Mill High School today, and will play Spalding in their home opener on Thursday.