The Briarwood Lady Bucs finally came alive Monday with a 9-1 win over the Thomas Jefferson Lady Jaguars at Briarwood.
"It's the first game this season that we didn't have a let down," Coach Christian Tiller said, adding that the Lady Bucs have lost three ball games due to one bad inning of play.
Now 6-4, the Lady Bucs began their region schedule Tuesday by traveling to Macon to face new region opponent Windsor Academy. They will play host to long-time rival and region favorite Brentwood School of Sandersville at 4 p.m. Thursday.
As with the games earlier in the season, the Lady Bucs gave a lackluster performance in the 12-team Trinity Christian Slugfest last weekend in Dublin.
The girls opened the tournament with a 2-4 loss to Southwest Georgia of Damascus.
"We gave that game away," Coach Tiller said. "Sarah (Nutial) pitched well enough to win, but we made too many costly errors. You can't win ball games by making errors."
The girls came back in the second and third games to defeat Oak Mountain Academy of Carrollton, 8-6, and then Citizens Christian Academy of Douglas, 7-5. The Lady Bucs were knocked out of the tournament by Bulloch Academy of Statesboro, 14-3.
Although the Lady Bucs offense still needs improvement, the Lady Bucs' defensive play against Thomas Jefferson on Monday was outstanding, according to Coach Tiller.
"Defensively, that's the best we've played all year," he said.
In the first inning, Taylor Stitcher fielded the ball in left, relayed it to Cassie Pickrell at short, who threw to catcher Liz Grant who tagged out the TJ runner, ending TJ's first inning scoring down by only one.
With junior Caitlin Rodgers pitching and down 1-0, the Lady Bucs retired the Lady Jaguars scoreless in the second, but then failed to score themselves.
In the top of the third, the Lady Bucs continued to play great defense. Stitcher made a running catch of a fly ball for an out, while second baseman Ali Dyson made two "great" fielding plays.
"She reached backhand across her body and made a stabbing catch and thew her (the TJ runner) out at first," Coach Tiller said of Dyson. "It was a spectacular play."
In the bottom of the third, the Lady Bucs finally made it onto the scoreboard. TJ changed pitchers and three Lady Bucs walked. Grant, the Lady Bucs' main offensive weapon, stepped to the plate and hit a base clearing, three-run triple.
It was all the Lady Bucs from then until freshman Lady Buc Sherrer Long's base hit over the first baseman scored Hannah Wilson, resulting in the game being called on the eight-run rule in the fifth.
Offensively, the Lady Bucs are going to have to step it up if they want to win, according to Coach Tiller, except for catcher Grant.
"Liz is playing well," he said.
Batting .500, Grant is on a 10-game hitting streak. Grant said this year's hitting prowess didn't come easily.
"It's taken four years to find it," she said. "I went to camp this summer, and I worked really hard. It's being a senior and realizing that it was time to step up and be a leader."
The team's first goal is to win the 1AA region title, according to Grant.
"It's going to take everybody's bat coming around and solid defense," she said. "We know what to do. It's just a matter of executing it."
This year's region schedule includes past rivals Monroe Academy, Brentwood School, Gatewood School and Piedmont Academy. Windsor is the only newcomer to the Lady Bucs' Region 1AA.
Grant has been assessing this year's region opposition.
"Brentwood looks real tough. They finished second in the Trinity Tournament," she said. "Piedmont's got a strong pitcher, and Gatewood always has a strong program."
Beginning with Windsor last Tuesday, the Lady Bucs are scheduled to play six straight region games.