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Lady Bucs softball swings into season

Coach Christian Tiller's Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers currently support a 2-2 record as the 2006 begins its early stages.

Right out of the box, Coach Tiller and his players faced one of the most dominant teams in high school softball in the first game of the season: That being Coach Eddie Durrance's Pinewood Academy squad.

"We looked good in our jerseys against Pinewood," Coach Tiller said. "But we were not sharp in our play. I just did not know how to adjust to what Pinewood did on the field. I quickly learned why Coach Durrance is a great coach."

In the season's opening game, Pinewood solidly defeated Briarwood 9-1 on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

"I'm learning from all our girls, and they are learning from me," Coach Tiller said. "We all learned a lot from the way Pinewood played us."

The Lady Buccaneers scored their lone run in the fourth inning as a result of a sacrifice hit. Cassie Pickrell reached first base, and then stole second and third bases consecutively. She scored on a sacrifice hit off the bat of Sara Nutial.

"Caitlin Rodgers pitched in this game, and even though it wasn't her best effort, she has improved leaps and bounds from last year," Coach Tiller said. "Pinewood is a big rivalry and big everything to us, and Caitlin showed a glimpse of brilliance against Pinewood."

During the weekend of Aug. 11-12, the Lady Buccaneers traveled to Augusta and participated in a tournament sponsored by Curtis Baptist School. Rain and lousy weather shortened the tournament to only one day, and in the end, Briarwood Academy was named the tournament champion after compiling a 2-0 record.

In their first game of the tournament, the Lady Buccaneers defeated the Lady Patriots of Nathaniel Greene Academy 12-0 - driven by a one-hitter from Nutial.

"Everybody on this team played well," Coach Tiller said. "My hat goes off to our senior catcher Liz Grant. She sprained her ankle the day before this tournament and she battled through intense pain calling all the pitches."

The second game of the tournament was not as easy for the Lady Bucs as their first. In this game, Briarwood held off a great comeback from David Emanuel Academy to post a slim 4-3 win.

"The games scheduled on Aug. 12 were cancelled due to rain, so they awarded us the tournament championship trophy for our two amazing wins," Coach Tiller said. "This was a great feeling for all of us."

For their efforts, Nutial was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Rodgers was named as the tournament's Most valuable Player.

"As their coach, I told my players that one-half of each of these awards was Liz Grant's, since she gave a brilliant performance as catcher. She has now been named one of the team's captains also," Coach Tiller said.

The Lady Bucs entertained the Lady Crusaders of Curtis Baptist on their home field on Monday, August 14. Curtis handed Briarwood it's second loss of the year, as the Lady Bucs fell by a 4-3 score.

"We made entirely too many errors in this game," Coach Tiller said. "We did not hit the ball well and were generally flat for the entire game."

Coach Tiller said the game was summed up in the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Lady Bucs got runners on second and third with no outs, but left both runners stranded.

The Lady Buccaneers will travel to Dublin this weekend to participate in the two-day Trinity Christian 2006 Slugfest. A total of 12 teams will be participating in this event.

"This tournament will be a real good measuring stick to see how we are," Coach Tiller said. "A lot of Class AA schools that have a chance to be in the state tournament will be at this event."

In an early season poll of Class AA schools, the Lady Bucs are ranked No. 5 in the state. Trinity Christian is at the top as the No. 1 ranked team. Other teams in the Top 5 are Piedmont Academy, Brentwood and Gatewood.

"It is amazing that four of the top five teams in the state are from Region 1-AA," Coach Tiller said. "In our region, we have some great teams that will go a long way during the season."

Web posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006

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