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Blue Devil softball celebrates huge win
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Rainy conditions and an early presstime kept Statesboro’s 6-3 win over No. 1 Wayne County out of Friday’s paper, but a win that big needs a little more expansion.
First and foremost, this is the first win over Wayne County in head coach Jim Simmons’ Statesboro tenure. Since Simmons has been in charge of Statesboro’s program, Wayne has been a perennial power in the coastal plains — having won their last four region championships and being in the final four as recent as 2013.
Considering how Statesboro started region play, there was no reason for anyone outside of the Statesboro locker room to think the Blue Devils would have had a chance to beat Wayne County let alone be competitive. Statesboro lost to South Effingham 1-0 on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the 13th inning, which came after being shutout twice in a row by Effingham County and Screven County.
“I never had any doubt they were going to be competitive, even after that stretch of games,” Simmons said. “But they never hung their heads. They came out and played very well.”
Wayne County came to Mill Creek Park a perfect 11-0 with a run differential of +51, but would face Statesboro pitcher Brinson Anne Rogers — who has started to develop into a true ace as the season has unfolded. Down 1-0 early in the game Rogers would find herself with multiple runners on base twice, but would get strikeouts to end both innings.
“I think the repertoire she’s developed with our Mack[enzi Wilkerson] has really helped her along in her game,” Simmons said. “Her velocity has increased from last year too and you see that in her strikeout numbers.”
Rogers would total 11 strikeouts, no walks and one earned run over seven innings of work Thursday night, but it wasn’t until the fourth inning where she started to get some run support. Adrienne Newell, Avery Wiggins and Wilkerson would all provide run support — Wilkerson’s two-run hit in the sixth with Statesboro up 4-3 being the most crucial of the three.
Wilkerson would finish 2-4 with those two RBI and another two runs scored. Cassidi Rushing and Newell would each had multi-hit games as well to give Statesboro a total of 11 against a strong Wayne County pitching staff. Offense was a struggle for Statesboro early on, but clearly heading to the midseason point Statesboro has figured something out.
“Avery [Wiggins] has been a big help for us with the way she sees the ball,” Simmons said. “That was a piece we didn’t have last year. I think as a team we’ve really hit a groove at the plate.”
Statesboro (6-4, 3-1) moves to second place in their region and will look to claim first with a rematch against South Effingham on Sept. 12. But next they’ll get two non-region matchups at Mill Creek Park with Screven County Thursday and Metter on Sept. 11.