The Briarwood Academy Lady Bucs picked up a big victory last week when they took over second place in Region 1AA with an 8-0 win over Piedmont Academy.
But the victory was marred by an injury to senior shortstop and team leader Katie Reese which takes her out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.
Briarwood's Cassie Pickrell gets a hit against Curtis Baptist last week.
"We need to go in (the region playoffs) as number one or two," Coach Robert Waller said. "We need to stay away from three and four (region seeds) because the region we're going against (in the playoffs) is mighty strong."
Currently, in this final week of regular season play, Gatewood is the only undefeated team in Region 1AA. The Lady Bucs, who split games with Piedmont, are in the number two spot with a region record of 8-2, followed closely by Piedmont with a region record of 7-3.
To hold onto that number two position, the Lady Bucs must have defeated Monroe Academy last Tuesday in Forsyth, and must either defeat Gatewood in their final regular season game at 4 p.m. on Thursday in Eatonton or have had Piedmont lose last Tuesday to Brentwood School, the fourth place team in Region 1AA.
If the Lady Bucs lose to Gatewood and Piedmont defeats Brentwood, the two teams will be tied for second place in the region with three region losses for each team.
The Lady Bucs played their "best all around game" of the season when they defeated Piedmont 8-0 on Tuesday, September 20, at Briarwood to take over the number two spot in the region.
"I was a little bit concerned, because we feel they have the best pitcher in our region. Last time she shut us out 2-1," Coach Waller said.
"We had no errors, and that's what hurt us in the past, and we faced the best pitcher we have in our region and beat her up pretty handily."
The Lady Bucs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Katie Reese led off the batting with a single. Diving back to first after leading off, Reese was struck in the jaw by a wild, low throw to first by the catcher that hit the ground and bounced up under her batting helmet. After a time out call, Reese returned to the game and moved to second on a base on balls by Cassie Pickrell and then scored on a single by Beth Gerlach.
Reese finished the game, and it wasn't until the following day that she found out the wild throw had broken her jaw in two places, leaving her unable to finish her senior season with the Lady Bucs.
Gerlach was responsible for another run for the Lady Bucs in the bottom of the third when she homered to right field to up the Lady Bucs' lead to 2-0.
The Lady Bucs came alive in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs. Sarah Nutial walked and then moved to second on a single by Whitney Carani. Samantha Jenkins walked to load the bases. Liz Grant's single scored the first two runs, and then Gerlach came back to the plate. This time she hit a three-run homer, a line drive down the right field line.
Up 7-0, the Lady Bucs scored their final run in the bottom of the sixth on a walk by Jenkins, a sacrifice bunt by Grant to move Jenkins to second base, and a base hit by Reese, scoring Jenkins.
The win moved the Lady Bucs, with two region losses, solidly into second place in the region standings. Piedmont is in third with two region losses to Gatewood and one to the Lady Bucs.
The Lady Bucs followed up their "best game of the year Tuesday" (against Piedmont) by playing their "worst game ever, since I've been here," last Thursday at Briarwood against Curtis Baptist School of Augusta.
"The only good thing I've got to say about it (the game with Curtis) is that we did what we had to do to win and maintain our position in the region," Coach Waller said.
The Lady Bucs, playing without senior Katie Reese for the first time in many years, were down 2-0 in the top of the fourth before they managed to score a run. Whitney Carani walked, stole second and then scored on a hit by Caitlin Rogers at the end of the fourth inning to cut the Curtis lead to 2-1.
Curtis came right back in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs to go up 5-1, before the Lady Bucs finally came alive. Jenkins, Carani, Gerlach and Ali Dyson scored to tie the game at 5-5 at the end of the inning.
Pitcher Caitlin Rodgers took the Curtis Baptist batters out one-two-three in the top of the sixth. The Lady Bucs got on base, but couldn't score, and the game moved into the final inning still tied at 5.
The Lady Bucs shut Curtis down in the top of the seventh and then came to bat for their final chance to win the game in regulation play.
Carani led off the seventh with a walk. The Lady Bucs had the bases loaded and two outs when Carani scored the winning run on a wild pitch for a 6-5 win.
The Lady Bucs were scheduled to finish their regular season play this past week with a non-region game on Monday, September 26, vs. Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville, a region game against last place Monroe Academy last Tuesday in Forsyth, and the all important final region game vs. Gatewood at 4 p.m. on Thursday in Eatonton.
The Lady Bucs will finish their regular season play by traveling to Bellville on Monday, Oct. 3, to make up a game with Pinewood Christian. Game time is 4:15 p.m.