GMC Prep softball’s offense was as hot as the 98-degree temperature when they welcomed the Titans of Lake Oconee Academy to Couch Field Wednesday.
The Lady Dogs (10-2) secured their sixth-straight win thanks to a total team effort after the offense reached double digits in just four frames while two GMC pitchers combined for a shutout. The Lady Dogs defended their home field by defeating the Lady Titans 11-0 in five innings.
GMC Prep junior Bella Herring got the ball to start, and was all business in the top of the first. She set the tone early, and even collected a pair of strikeouts to retire the side in order.
Makenna Talcott led off the home half of the first with a triple through the gap in left and was brought home quickly thanks to a Jordan Spear fielder’s choice groundout that put the home team on the board. Whitley Ward, the lone Lady Dog senior, connected on a shot to left field that earned her a double and kept the rally rolling. Next, Mary Katherine Lawrence singled to center to put runners on the corners. Herring then took one for the team as she was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases for freshman Josie Deason.
Deason displayed excellent patience as she worked the count until earning a walk that plated another GMC run, setting the lead at 2-0. Soon after, sophomore Mallory Watts connected with a booming bases-clearing triple to the right field corner that sent the home crowd into a frenzy as the lead grew now to five runs. The Lady Bulldogs still weren't satisfied. Next, Dawn Bryan slapped a ball down the line in right that drove in Watts from third. The LOA right fielder mishandled the ball near the corner, and Bryan wheeled around third to try for the in-the-park home run. The ball was relayed in and reached homeplate at almost the exact time as Bryan, who herself slid head first while avoiding a collision. She was called out on what was a very close play, but still earned herself an RBI and her team the 6-0 lead.
Herring's focus inside the pitcher’s circle remained unmoved as she again retired the side in order while adding two more strikeouts to her total. She kept it rolling in the defensive half of the third as she collected yet another K to start off. An error in the infield allowed a runner to reach, but a popout to first kept the runner stranded. The fourth batter of the inning for the Titans hit a hot shot over the head of Herring that actually glanced off of her outstretched glove towards short on a very odd bounce. Ward charged in from shortstop without hesitation and collected the ball before firing it to first to end the inning as if it were routine.
A one-two-three fourth inning delivered by Herring got the Lady Bulldogs back into the dugout and out of the hot sun in a hurry, and her teammates seemed to repay her for it immediately.
Watts led off the inning with a base-on-balls. A batter later, Talcott once again connected on a hard-hit ball, this time to right field that earned her a double and placed GMC runners on second and third. Spear was hit by a pitch to load the bases before a rifled shot to the wall in left by Ward plated two more to set the lead now at eight runs.
Lea Jannakos checked in for Herring in the bottom of the fourth as her dominant day came to an end having surrendered no hits or walks. Jannakos' impact was immediate as she sent a hotshot grounder to third that was mishandled and overthrown, allowing GMC to plate yet another two runs.
Kyra Dobler would join in on the offensive onslaught with a rocket to the fence in left center that drove Jannakos home and set the lead at 11-0 for GMC Prep.
In the top of the fifth Jannakos picked up where Herring left off as she retired the side with little to no drama, closing the door on the opposition to secure the 11-0 home victory to set the winning streak at six.
GMC Prep softball will look to carry that momentum into this weekend as the team is set to compete in a tournament in Watkinsville. The Lady Dogs will return to their home field Tuesday to take on region opponent Washington-Wilkes.