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Statesboro softball wins first ever region title
Statesboro wins region title
Ware County head coach Rebecca Kirkland shows her emotions after the Gators failed to score from second on a single to center in the sixth. while Brinson Anne Rogers and Statesboro coach Jim Simmons celebrate Rogers striking out the final two batters as the Blue Devils won the region title 1-0 Thursday at Mill Creek Park. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

It took three games, and some nail biting down the stretch, but the Statesboro Blue Devil softball team officially captured their first ever fastpitch softball region title, as they outlasted Ware County, winning the third and decisive game 1-0 Thursday evening at Mill Creek Park.

“Things that are worth having aren’t easy,” said Statesboro coach Jim Simmons. “I was so proud of the girls for being able to hit the reset button after game two last night. Neither team really hit well today, but we defended well, and made the plays when we needed to on offense, and defense.”

Senior Brinson Anne Rogers burst on the scene as a freshman phenom four years ago, and Thursday she helped solidify her place in the history books, pitching, and hitting the Blue Devils to victory.

Rogers came through with 14 strikeouts, and pitched her way out of plenty of jams Thursday evening, At the plate she drove in the only Blue Devil run, with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“Brinson Anne always comes through when we need her,” Simmons said. “She is definitely a big game pitcher. She enjoys the game so much and is a fierce competitor, and a joy to coach.”

With the game tied at 0-0 Avery Wiggins led off the sixth with a single to right center. Rogers then sent a blast into the gap in right center. Wiggins was running with the pitch, and scored all the way from first.

“That was the perfect situation for us,” Simmons said. “With Brinson Anne at the plate, and Avery on first we knew we had a chance. B.A. hit a shot, and Avery was flying around the bases to score the run.”

Ware County had plenty of scoring opportunities throughout the game, including having a runner on third in the top of the seventh with two outs. Rogers finished the game, as she did with all the Gator scoring chances throughout the game, with a strikeout to end the inning, and the game.

“My adrenaline just starts pumping in those situations,” Rogers said. “My thought is that I am going to send them to the dugout feeling sad, because I want to go to my dugout feeling happy.”

Both teams squandered scoring opportunities throughout the game. The Blue Devils had runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the third, but were unable to scratch through for a run. 

The Gators had a few chances as well. Ware County loaded the bases in the top of the third, but Rogers got the final out with one of her 14 strikeouts in the game.

The Gators best chance at coming through with a run cam in the top of the sixth. With a runner on second and one out Lauren Smallwood hit a hard shot to center field, but coach Rebecca Kirkland held the runner at third. Rogers then sat Savannah Jeffers and Avien Trull down with strikeouts ending the inning.

“I was very surprised coach Kirkland held the runner on that play, I would have tried to score,” said SImmons. “There were a couple other times when I was afraid she may try a squeeze bunt with a runner on third, but thankfully they didn’t try.”

Ware County also left a runner on third in the top of the fifth with two outs, again Rogers struck the last batter out for out number three.

Next up the Blue Devils will host Locust Grove in the opening round of the state Class-AAAAA playoffs Tuesday afternoon. The Wolverines are 15-8 overall and are the number four seed out of region four.