LOCUST GROVE — The Statesboro Blue Devils were five outs from advancing to the Elite Eight in the state Class AAAAA playoffs Wednesday night, but were unable to finish off the Locust Grove Wildcats, who came back to win game two by a count of 6-4.
The Wildcats ended up making Statesboro pay for giving them new life, as they took the third and deciding game 5-0 Thursday, ending the Blue Devils' season.
“I really believe we had a chance to get them last night,” said Statesboro High head coach Jim Simmons. “I’m so proud of these girls, they did a fantastic job. Their pitcher that they threw in game one last night — that we were able to beat — she really shut us down today.”
Locust Grove pitcher Martina Maloch was in control on the mound allowing only three Statesboro hits the entire game. A first inning infield hit by McKenzie Wilkerson, a third inning grounder that Adrienne Newell beat out and a single to left in the seventh by Bailee Roberts. Maloch also had seven strikeouts in her complete game effort.
Locust Grove started the scoring in the second. Madisyn Brown led off and was hit by a pitch, she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chandler Mitchell. Blue Devil pitcher Brinson Anne Rogers was then able to strike out Savannah Brochenbrough, but proceeded to walk Brooke McCubbin beforeMaloch drilled a double down the line in left, bringing in both runners and giving Locust Grove a 2-0 lead.
“In my experience in a game three, the early momentum can be a big thing unless it’s answered quickly, and we didn’t answer it quickly,” said Simmons.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the fourth as, after a leadoff double by Mitchell, McCubbin launched a 2-run home run to left to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.
“The energy level and our cheering dipped a little bit after that,” said Simmons, “I still felt the focus from the players in the game was still there.”
Locust Grove struck for another run in the sixth as, with runners on second and third, a shallow pop up to left by Morgan Elston fell for a single, allowing Kelly Kight to score from third for the final run of the game and a 5-0 Wildcat victory.
“I am so proud of the girls for what they accomplished this year,” said Simmons, ”The future continues to look bright for our program.”
Statesboro ends the season with a record of 18-11, and lose four seniors from this year’s squad.