The inaugural fast-pitch softball season has been a tremendous test for the Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers.
Not only has the transition from slow-pitch been a true difference from previous years, the play of opposing teams has also been quite a challenge for Coach Robert Waller and his squad.
Briarwood's Anne Wills (2) gets airborne as she slides into home during a recent win.
"We are currently 5-4 overall, but we could easily be 9-0 or 1-8," Coach Waller said. "Only a few runs have separated us from going either way."
For example, he said, it was a couple of defensive errors that cost the Lady Bucs two runs in a 3-2 loss to Brentwood recently.
"I am very optimistic that if we continue to improve every day, we will make the playoffs," Coach Waller said. "Our ultimate goal this season is to make the playoffs."
The Lady Bucs opened their season on August 16 with a big 17-14 win over arch-rival Thomas Jefferson Academy. Briarwood led 5-0 going into the third inning, and then exploded for seven runs in the top of the third inning to blow the game wide open.
Senior Ashley Pickard was the leading hitter for the Lady Bucs with a three for four performance that included a trio of singles and two RBIs. Sara Nutial also went three for four.
In a rematch of last year's state championship game on August 19, Pinewood Academy defeated Briarwood 8-4 in a very electricfying contest. The game was tied 4-4 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Pinewood scored four unanswered runs to post the win.
During the weekend of August 20-21, the Lady Bucs traveled to Sandersville to participate in a tournament sponsored by Brentwood Academy. Briarwood finished the tourney with a 2-2 record to capture second place overall.
Briarwood defeated North Atlanta Flight 9-1 in the tournament's first game on Friday night, Aug. 20. Then on Saturday, the Lady Bucs fell 17-9 to Trinity Christian School before rebounding to defeat North Atlanta again by a score of 12-7. The final game for Briarwood in the tourney was a 12-10 loss to Trinity.
All during this tournament, Lady Buc senior shortstop Anne Wills led her team at the plate in the batting column. In the four games, Wills went 9 for 14 with seven RBIs.
Briarwood's Katie Reese swings at the ball during a recent game.
The Lady Bucs got back on track in their regular schedule on August 23 with a tremendous 31-2 slaughter over Westminster. Briarwood scored 23 runs in the first inning to break the game wide open.
Blythe Ansley led the Lady Bucs in batting with a three for four performance that included five RBIs. She was followed by Pickard with a two for three outing and three RBIs, Ali Dyson with a two for two performance and two RBIs, and Nutial one for three with three RBIs.
On August 24, the Brentwood Lady Eagles defeated Briarwood by a very slim 3-2 margin in a very emotional contest for the local young ladies. The Lady Eagles broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning to capture the win.
Katie Reese, Beth Gerlach and Dyson all went one-for-three at the plate.
The final game played last week for the Lady Buccaneers was a big 14-2 win over the Lady Spartans of Edmund Burke Academy. Briarwood exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the third inning to capture the win.
Nutial was the team's leading hitter with a two-for-three performance. She was followed by Cassie Pickrell with a two-for-four outing and Angela Kirkland with a one for three performance.
"In the upcoming few weeks, we have our hands full with very tough competition," Coach Waller said. "We must eliminate our little mistakes and play hard-nose defense and offense to take advantage of these teams."
In key home games that are coming up, the Lady Bucs will play host to Curtis Baptist on Sept. 2, and then will play host to Pinewood Academy on Sept. 7.