A 10-strikeout outing from Brinson Anne Rogers vaulted Statesboro High to what was arguably the biggest win in program history — a 3-1 defeat of Ware County.
Statesboro head coach Jim Simmons was quick to brush aside the claim of biggest win in program history, but acknowledged Tuesday’s upset was definitely the biggest win since he took over five years ago.
“That’s the first win over a region opponent that will be in the playoffs since I took over,” Simmons said. “It’s absolutely the best quality win in my tenure.”
As she has done all season, Rogers’ controlled the game from the first pitch — even when she found herself in trouble in the top of the first.
After registering the first two outs via fly out and ground out, Ware struck a single and drew a walk to put two runners on. That led to Alexis Trusty smacking a single of her own to drive in the first run of the game and give Statesboro deja vu of the last time they played Ware.
“The first time we played Ware we lost the game in the first inning,” Simmons said. “We had two outs with the bases loaded, then they hit a home run and tacked on three more. We just let it get away from us.”
However Rogers didn’t fall into the same trap, striking out the next batter to end the frame with minimal damage. It was from that inning forward Rogers would only pitch stronger and look more confident, as only two batters would reach in the next 20 plate appearances. Of all the outings the freshman has had in her debut season — this was arguably the best.
“Everything I did in travel ball and with private coaching has come out here,” Rogers said. “I just pitch to the mit. I’m in it to win it.”
Rogers sat down the last 11 batters she faced, striking out four of her last seven. She would end the night allowing only three hits, two walks and her lone earned run to go along with ten strikeouts.
Rogers’ performance overshadowed two others on her team worthy of recognition: Morgan Thompson and McKenzi Wilkerson. The pair, along with Rogers, have been the lifeblood of what could only be described as the miracle season for Statesboro — so it was only appropriate the three would be the biggest game changers in the biggest win of the season.
With two outs in the bottom of the third and runners on first and second, Thompson stepped up to the plate after striking out in her first pate appareence. On a 2-1 pitch, Thompson floated a ball into deep left-center field where it dropped safely between the two outfielders.
The ball then rolled away from centerfielders Kennedy Sanders as she went to pick it up, allowing Cassidy Stephens and Adrenne Newell to score and Thompson to reach second safely. In one swing and one error Statesboro led Ware 2-1.
Then Wilkerson, who also struck out in her first at-bat, took the first pitch she saw down the right field line for a ground-rule double — adding cushion for Statesboro to hang on for the win.
“We faced a great pitcher today,” Wilkerson said. “She was climbing the ladder on us, so we just adjusted from our first at-bats to come around to get hits.”
At 14-6 and 3-3 in their region, Statesboro has been a shock to the county and themselves. It didn’t even hit the girls until Teusday night that the Blue Devils are going to the playoffs and they’ve defied everyone’s expectations.
“We knew we had the talent, we just didn’t know if we could put it together,” Thompson said. “I turned around in the sixth and said ‘wow we’re still winning this thing.’”
Statesboro’s season finishes up this week with a home-and-home against the region favorite Wayne County — tonight on the road at 5:00 and tomorrow at 6:00 for senior night.
Chris Stanley may be reached at (912) 489-9408.