Although prospects were looking dire early, the fat lady has not quite sung on the 2020 GMC Prep softball season.
The Lady Dogs advanced to the second round of the GHSA Class A-Public state playoffs by beating Mt. Zion 10-4 in Wednesday’s winner-take-all game 3. The Lady Eagles of Carrollton jumped out to a 1-0 series lead Tuesday before GMC bounced back to win 12-4 in game 2, forcing the decisive rubber match.
Lady Dogs head coach Jennifer Deason had a simple message for her team heading into game 3.
“I told them that our backs were against the wall,” she said. “We had two choices — tuck our tails and go home or come out fighting. I told them they had to dig deep, and that’s what they chose to do. I knew the girls had it in them, so I felt confident we were going to have a good day.”
Deason knew her players could answer the challenge because it’s something they did just last season in a very similar predicament. GMC was down 1-0 in the 2019 playoff series against Schley County and came back to punch its ticket to the GHSA fastpitch softball state championships held in Columbus.
“We tend to fight harder when our backs are against the wall,” Deason said. “I’d prefer us to not have to do that, but these girls are tough. They don’t die quite as easily as other teams would hope. We’re going to keep fighting until the very end, and that’s what these girls did.”
Mt. Zion seized the early momentum in Wednesday’s game 3. Leadoff hitter Chelsey Hogsed went yard on only the second pitch she saw from GMC senior pitcher Bella Herring, who then gave up a single to the next batter. Herring would settle in for a while after that though as she sat down the next seven batters she faced.
The game hit the restart button heading into the third with the score at 1-1. The visiting Lady Eagles found a little offense and plated two, but the Lady Dogs clapped back with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Senior Mary Katherine Lawrence cracked a triple that cleared the bases and pretty much spelled the demise of the 2020 Mt. Zion softball team.
The Lady Dogs would pour on more runs though as Lawrence got another bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth. This time she chased two runners home with a double, giving her five RBIs on the day. GMC Prep added a couple more to its run total in the fifth and sixth, and also kept Mt. Zion from mounting any sort of comeback.
In addition to Lawrence’s big day, sophomore Riley Barsby went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs at the plate. Inside the pitcher’s circle, sophomore Leah Jannakos took over for Herring in the third and struck out five while surrendering just one run the remainder of the ballgame.
Perseverance pushed the Lady Dogs in the second round where they will once again square off against the Schley County Lady Wildcats. The best-of-three series starts Friday with game 1 at 1:30 p.m. and game 2 to follow at 3:30. If necessary, game 3 will be played Saturday. The entire series will be played at Schley County, which is in Ellaville.