BY CHARLES PHELPS
JEFFERSON — It has been a tough 2014 season for the Jefferson Lady Dragons’ softball team. Amidst a coaching change in the past few weeks, a seven-game losing skid and with their region hopes slipping away, the Lady Dragons could have folded.
The operative word being folded. But, they haven’t given up on this season quite yet.
The Lady Dragons persevered through what has been a difficult stretch for the program and kept their region hopes alive by defeating the Jackson County Lady Panthers, 7-0, on Thursday.
The win avenged a 15-5 loss earlier in the season.
With the win, Jefferson (8-17, 3-8 Region 8-AAA) faces the East Jackson Lady Eagles on Tuesday night at home with region tournament hopes on the line.
Jefferson senior Olivia Husted pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing only three hits and recording 10 strikeouts. She went 3-for-4 from the plate, including a two-run home run and four RBIs.
Arynn Baker recorded four singles and an RBI and Emily Dufty smashed two doubles and snagged an RBI.
As a team, the Lady Dragons recorded 15 hits.
“We got our bats going and they started going early,” interim head coach Sam Moore said. “That was a big thing.
“We got seven great innings from Olivia. She pitched lights out tonight. And, defensively, we made plays and executed on defense.”
The Lady Dragons committed no errors in the win.
“That’s what we’ve been working on in practice, hammering, hammering and hammering, and it finally came together tonight. It was a great job, a great win tonight.”
After taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning, the Lady Dragons broke it open in the top of the third inning when Husted connected on the two-run homer to extend the lead to 3-0. Husted drove in two more runs in the top of the fourth. Baker and Dufty each recorded their RBI hits in the inning as well.
“This was probably one of the best nights for me personally and us as a team have had, because it has been rough season,” Husted explained after the victory.
“The way we won in this game was spectacular, just the way we stayed up and the way we kept hitting, because last time, once we got down we were down. We couldn’t go back up. So, when we started hitting, we kept getting hits and hits and hits, and it all just followed through,” Husted continued. “We had spectacular defense. The catcher, she did great. Finally hitting a strike zone, which nice…It felt great because it hasn’t exactly been the best season, but its gotten better, and that right there made me excited for Tuesday, because now I’m ready to come out and put it on East Jackson.”
The Lady Panthers (14-12, 7-4) were led by Alyssa Dasher’s two hits. Peyton Sorrells recorded the team’s only other hit
“It was a disappointing loss,” head coach Chessie Laird said. “Anytime you play at home, especially on senior night, when you play Jefferson, you really want that win.
“But, I’m not going to take anything away from their girls. They came out, they were ready, they were intense, they hit the ball, they did the little things right, and we struggled…Olivia’s a great pitcher. She pretty much dominated us. For us to not do what we needed to at the plate, that was a little frustrating. But, Tuesday’s a new day.”
The Lady Panthers travel to Oconee County on Tuesday. With a win, they clinch the No. 2-seed in the region tournament.