The hits came early and often for South Effingham Tuesday afternoon as it pounded out a 15-0 win over Statesboro in just three innings at Mill Creek Regional Park.
Mallory Ferguson had a career day for the Lady Mustangs, going 2-for-2 with five runs batted in and three runs scored in the victory.
Eight runs in the top of the first gave the Mustangs (3-0, 1-0 Region 2-AAAA) a commanding lead from the start, and more offensive fireworks followed to send the Lady Blue Devils (0-4, 0-3) to their fourth consecutive loss to start the season.
“It was another short day for us, but we could have done better,” said Statesboro coach Jim Simmons. “In the two losses we had at Greenbriar, I thought we improved. Today, we took a step back. We made some mistakes and missed some opportunities that could have made this game much closer.”
South Effingham was able to get things started without even swinging the bat as Mallory Ferguson led off with a walk and Katie White and Alexis Mercer were each hit by pitches from Statesboro starter Lauren Hadden.
Hadden bounced back, coaxing a pop up and a Kate Anderson sacrifice fly around an Ashton Collins RBI single to record two outs with just two runs in. The Devils nearly escaped the jam, but the throw on a Megan Kyes grounder eluded the grasp of Brianna Cone, allowing two more Lady Mustangs to score and opening the floodgates.
“That’s sort of how we’ve been so far this season,” said South Effingham coach Chuck Smith. “We’ve been a very good two out team. We came up with big hits when we needed them, and when (Statesboro) gave us some opportunities, we were able to capitalize and get some more runs across the plate.”
Four straight Effingham run-scoring hits followed the error – the big blow coming on a two-run double from Ferguson – and the Mustangs grabbed an 8-0 lead before ever taking the field.
That proved to be more than enough for South Effingham starter Courtney Jenkins.
The junior righty made quick work of the Statesboro bats, striking out five, walking none and surrendering just two hits while not allowing a Blue Devil runner past first base.
“I just tried to go out there strong,” said Jenkins. “All of my pitches seemed to be working for me today. I felt like I could challenge all of the batters and try to throw it by them, but I also knew that I had a good defense behind me to back me up.”
The Mustangs worked more two-out magic in the second inning.
With the bases loaded and one run already in, Ferguson split the gap in left center, clearing the bases for a three-run triple.
“I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well so far this season, so I was just glad to keep it going,” said Ferguson. “As the leadoff batter, I’m not always in a spot to drive in runs. Usually, I’m just trying to put the ball in play and get on base, but when I had those at-bats today, I tried to drive the ball. I got a couple of good pitches to hit and they found the holes in the field.”
Ferguson came in to score on a wild pitch, and Shelby Zipperer lined a two-run single to make it a 15-0 Effingham advantage.
Hadden was able to keep the Mustang offense off the scoreboard in the third inning, but Statesboro’s inability to score a run in the bottom half put the mercy rule into effect and the game was called.
South Effingham moves on to Thursday when it will host Region 3-AA power Screven County.
The Devils will rest until Friday, when they will play a doubleheader in the first day of the Bash in the Boro tournament that they are hosting.
South Effingham will also take part in the tournament.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.