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Lady Raiders suffer first region loss, come back strong

By MICHAEL MURRAY
michael.murray@americustimesrecorder.com

The Southland Academy Lady Raiders suffered the team’s first region loss of the season to the Tiftarea Lady Panthers on Sept. 22, falling 1-0 in a hard-fought contest in Chula. Southland’s girls returned to the diamond on Sept. 24 in Americus for their final game of the regularly scheduled season, taking a 15-0 win over the Brookwood Lady Warriors. The team has two make-up matches to play against Deerfield-Windsor and Valwood to complete their season.
In the team’s first contest of the week, the Lady Panthers put the game’s sole run on the board in the top of the fourth inning, propelled by a leadoff triple that put the team in striking distance.
“That was a tough one,” said Lady Raider head coach, John Brady, describing the circumstances that led to the team’s first region 3-IAAA loss.
“After the game, I told the girls that I had made a couple of mistakes,” he told the Times-Recorder. “I went back to the well in pitches one too many times, calling the same pitch when a Tiftarea batter was at the plate with a full count. She finally hit it… Megan [Burke] made the pitch that I asked her to throw and the girl got a better swing on it this time and got the triple to lead off the inning. They ended up bringing her in. That’s how they beat us.”
“Tiftarea has a good team,” he continued. “There’s no shame in losing to them. They’ve had a good year.”
Burke threw six innings in the match, giving up only two hits. She stuck out seven batters and walked only one.
Despite the loss, the Lady Raiders won the duel of the batters, gaining four hits in the match.
Christina Davis led the Lady Raiders from the batters box, hitting two for two with one double. Savanna Swann and Abby Dent each contributed one hit in the contest.
“It was a great pitchers duel,” Brady said. “Megan [Burke] was great.”
Brady went on to say that he feels like this was a match that could easily have gone the other way, but a strong performance from Tiftarea’s pitcher and a tough call from the coach’s position on the sidelines contributed to the defeat.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know that, sometimes it’s going to work out for you, and sometimes it’s not,” he said. “We’re still in a good spot. From here, we just need to handle our own business. If we can do that, we have a chance at winning the region.”
The Lady Raiders returned to action on Thursday, facing the Brookwood Lady Warriors in the drizzling rain. The less-than-ideal playing conditions affected the performance of both teams in the match, but Southland’s girls overcame the difficulties brought on by the mud and rain to take the win.
Southland truck early in the match, posting five runs in the first frame before surrendering the plate. A hit and a walk put two Lady Warriors on base with one out before the next batter stepped up. Brookwood’s hitter nailed a liner to first that was expertly snagged by Southland’s Farrah Sechrist, who launched the ball to second, putting out another runner for a double play that highlighted the inning.
As the Lady Raiders came back in from the dugout, the wet playing conditions seemed to get the better of Brookwood’s pitcher, as she threw a series of walks and wild pitches that, ultimately, landed the Southland girls another 10 points, putting them up 15-0. Nearly every batter in the Lady Raiders’ lineup crossed the plate during the fame, putting the game out of comeback range for Brookwood.
Dent and Kaitlyn Smith each contributed two hits to the win, bringing in two RBIs apiece. Sechrist and Burke each gained one hit and added one RBI. In all, Southland gained eight hits in the match, with Burke’s pitching holding Brookwood to only one. Burke struck out four batters.
The Lady Raiders will be playing postponed matches against Deerfield-Windsor and Valwood on Sept. 28-29 at 4:30 in Americus. Soutland’s girls have previously defeated both of these teams this season.
Despite the loss, the Lady Raiders’ impressive region 3-IAAA record will likely help secure the team a prime position in the rankings when playoffs begin on Oct. 5. The team currently has the best record in the region, trailed by Tiftarea , who has two region losses, one of them at the hands of the Lady Raiders.