SYLVANIA — Game planning for ways to beat Screven County doesn’t take much time. Not because the Lady Gamecocks are easy opponents, but rather because there are so few ways to avoid their seemingly endless strengths.
There just isn’t anywhere to hide when Screven (15-1, 3-0 Region 3A-AA) shows up on the schedule, and seniors Marla Thompson and Rochelle Shuman are key components on a Gamecock team that is primed for another deep playoff run.
Thompson is in her fourth year of dominating opponents from her spot on the pitcher’s rubber. She has taken the mound for the Gamecocks in almost every big game since her freshman year and has been the premier pitcher in the region for the past two seasons.
This year has been a tour de force for the right-hander as Thompson has two no-hitters under her belt and the season’s midway point.
Overall, she boasts an 8-1 record and a miniscule 0.47 ERA. Runs are nearly impossible to come by off of Thompson and hits aren’t much more likely — just 24 of 228 batters (.111 batting average) have recorded a hit. Thompson isn’t very charitable with free passes either, allowing just five walks to her 83 strikeouts.
"I just go out there and try my hardest each game," said Thompson. "I try to get all of my pitches working and know that I have a great defense behind me."
Shutting down the Screven bats is no more likely than scoring off of Thompson.
Shuman is just one of a group of dangerous hitters in a Gamecock lineup that features no easy outs.
"I think that everyone is really hitting the ball well right now," said Shuman. "I know I feel confident at the plate. Lee Smoke has always worked with me on hitting and our coaches do a great job of setting up the lineup for us to score."
While everyone is chipping in for Screven this season – nine Gamecocks are batting at least .333 – Shuman is a jack of all trades. In addition to batting .375, Shuman leads the team in extra base hits, ranks second in RBIs and stolen bases, and is third in total hits and runs scored.
Shuman is most dangerous when the stakes are highest, raising her average to .426 with runners in scoring position to contribute to her 10 RBIs.
"I just do whatever the situation calls for," said Shuman. "We have so many good hitters that there are usually runners on base no matter who is up to bat."
Many of the Gamecocks have been in action on the diamond since the summer. Along with Thompson and Shuman, fellow seniors Sydnee Weaver and Tiffanie Burns teamed together on the Georgia Thunder during summer ball.
"I think that helped us to really bond," said Thompson. "As much as we play together in the fall, every extra game in the summer gets us more on the same page and helps with the team chemistry."
"Playing more just offers more opportunities to learn and stay sharp," said Shuman. "There’s always something new to pick up on and we’re committed to having a great season this year, so we all worked hard over the summer and hopefully it will pay off this fall."