MILLEDGEVILLE — In front of a large audience on Friday night, Georgia Military Prep School softball opened up its season, as the team fought Eagles Landing Christian Academy tooth-and-nail for seven innings before letting the win slip away in the eighth to fall 9-6.
GMC Prep tied up the ball game on two different occasions in the contest, battling the Lady Chargers every step of the way.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort, or will, or want-to or anything like that,” Julie Brooker, head coach, said. “I was really proud of the effort.”
For their season-opener, the highly-touted Lady Bulldogs were thrown everything a high school softball game could throw at a team.
“I really feel like it’s just a matter of getting comfortable,” Brooker said. “First game of the year and we’re called on in a lot of different ways — exhausted the whole bench, extra innings, come from behind in the seventh inning, so it’s tough. It’s humbling, you know, but that’s OK.”
Despite posting five runs in the ball game, GMC Prep struggled offensively against the Lady Chargers.
“I mean, you’ve got to credit their pitcher,” Brooker said. “She really had us off balance and we didn’t adjust.”
Whitley Dunn, sophomore, helped lead the Lady Bulldogs on Friday night with her first-ever home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie things up 2-2.
Sutton Long, sophomore, also helped offensive going 1-3 with 2 RBI and a double, followed by Jessica Hayles who went 2-5 with 1 RBI. Sarah Margaret Mason also went 2-2 on the night.
Defensively, junior Dixie Raley carried the Lady Bulldogs for five innings before relinquishing pitching duties over to Mason.
Brooker was also pleased with Hayles at catcher, who provided the team with leadership from behind the plate.
“I would just have to say that there’s no questioning the competitive drive of these girls. I think, more than anything, they just put a lot of pressure on themselves,” Brooker said. “One through 14, I could start any of those girls and we would put out a strong lineup. So, a little bit of that is the competing from practice carrying over and putting a little pressure on themselves, but we’ll get there; we’ll work it out.”
With everyone coming back this season, Brooker admits that the Lady Bulldogs are going to have to show up every game, as they will not be able to surprise anyone this year.
“The first thing I told the girls was that there is not sneaking up on anybody this year. People saw us a win away from the state championship game, and we beat Eagles Landing [Christian Academy] twice last year,” she said. “They probably came out saying, ‘we’ve got nothing to lose,’ and played a little looser than us.
“It’s tough; it’s a totally new dynamic we’ve got to get used to for this season,” she added. “We’re going to get there; I’m not worried about it.”
While Friday night’s outcome might have damaged their pride a little, the GMC Prep girls plan to regroup and learn from the loss.
“You learn more from losses than you do from wins, and we were inches away from that one,” Brooker said.
GMC Prep jumps back into action today as they travel to Perry for a doubleheader, beginning with the junior varsity game at 4:15 p.m. and the varsity at 5:55 p.m.