The Briarwood Academy Lady Bucs eked out a 2-1 sixth inning win over region foe Curtis Baptist School of Augusta last week to up their Region 1AA region to 3-1.
The Lady Bucs real test will come next week when they face region powerhouses Gatewood School of Eatonton on Monday and Brentwood School of Sandersville on Thursday.
Only the top four ranked teams in 1AA can advance to the playoffs, according to Coach Robert Waller, who says Brentwood, last year's fast pitch state champion, and Gatewood are two of the best. The Lady Bucs have yet to face Gatewood, but dropped a close one, 3-2, to Brentwood earlier in the season in Sandersville.
The Lady Bucs will travel to Eatonton on Monday, September 13, to take on Gatewood at 4 p.m. They will have host Brentwood at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14.
"If we could win both of those games, it would ensure us a spot in the playoffs," Coach Waller said.
The Lady Bucs played an excellent defensive ball game against Curtis, considered by some in preseason to be the top team in the region, according to Waller, who added that the Lady Bucs' young, inexperienced pitching staff is supplying "steady, dependable pitching" for the Lady Bucs.
"Curtis had base runners in every inning, but defensively we did a good job of shutting them down," Waller said. "We made the plays when we had to make them."
Curtis Baptist had 11 base runners in Thursday's game, but the Lady Bucs allowed only one run to score, and that was in the first inning on an error.
Prior to the sixth inning, the Lady Bucs had only two runners on base. Eighth grader Sarah Nutial singled in the bottom of the second, and sophomore Angela Kirkland reached first base on balls in the bottom of the fifth.
"She might have been the best pitcher we've faced yet, and she was sort of mowing us down," Coach Waller said of the Curtis pitcher. "We didn't mount any scoring threat at all until the bottom of the sixth."
In the bottom of the sixth, with one out and the top of the Lady Bucs batting order coming to the plate, the Curtis catcher missed the ball on the third strike on Blythe Ansley, allowing the speedy senior to reach first. Ansley stole second and then reached third on junior Katie Reese's sacrifice bunt. With two outs and the tying run on third, senior Anne Wills was hit by the pitcher for a free trip to first. Senior Ashley Pickard came up with a two out single, scoring Ansley and advancing Wills to third. Junior Beth Gerlach came up next with a clean single to third, scoring Wills for a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Bucs caught three lazy pop-ups -- to Ansley in center field, Kirkland in right field, and pitcher Caitlin Rogers from the mound -- to end the game.
"It was the only 1-2-3 inning we had all day," Coach Waller said.
"If we can throw strikes and not give up bases on balls, we're okay," he continued. "As long as we can make defensive play, we'll be okay.
"We've shut people out in slow pitch so I don't know why we shouldn't be able to shut them out in fast pitch."
The Lady Bucs defeated Thomas Jefferson Academy of Louisville 10-2 and Piedmont Academy of Monroe 5-4 earlier in the week.