HEPHZIBAH, Ga. -- They did exactly what they needed to do.
And as a result, the Lady Bulldogs of Thomson High School have earned themselves another trip to the Class AAA State Playoffs this year. A year ago, the school made it all the way to the Elite Eight Series -- a feat never before accomplished by a Thomson softball team.
Thomson was scheduled to play the Harlem High Lady Bulldogs in the best-of-three game series for the Region 3-AAA championship on Tuesday. Please read how they fared in those games by reading the Wednesday edition of The Augusta Chronicle or by turning to The McDuffie Mirror website. Coverage of those games also will appear in next week's edition of The Mirror .
"I was extremely pleased with the way we played," said Thomson head coach Jason Osborn after his team defeated Burke County 15-0 and Washington County 10-2 in the first round of the Region 3-AAA playoffs at Diamond Lakes Regional Park last Saturday.
Thomson improved its overall record to 15-7 on the season and 7-1 in region play.
"I thought we hit the ball well, played good defense and got great pitching along the way."
Pitching was a big plus for the Lady Bulldogs, as Brooke Herkel demonstrated by winning both games.
In the game against Burke County, which lasted only 2 1/2 innings because of the run limit, the junior, who now has become Thomson's lone pitcher, fired a no hitter and never allowed a single Lady Bear to reach base. She retired the Lady Bears in order in the first, second and third innings.
Herkel struck out four of the nine batters she faced in Game No. 1 last weekend.
She bounced right back in Game No. 2 behind a 10-run assault by teammates to defeat a previously undefeated Washington County team in sub-region play by eight runs.
It marked the second time this season that Thomson had knocked off the Lady Golden Hawks. In a game played earlier in the season in Thomson, the Lady Bulldogs won by a score of 11-3.
"I'm glad we played good and won both games," said Herkel, who struck out a season-high 12 batters when Thomson played Washington County. "My fastball worked well again and my teammates gave me a lot of support."
In the Burke County game, the Lady Bulldogs had no troubles, whatsoever.
Herkel and senior shortstop Hannah Wilson provided all the firepower needed in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs. Thomson never had to look back after going up 2-0.
Aside from those two big blasts, there were three other hits during the inning. They were delivered from the bats of catcher Haley Poss, senior first baseman Caitlin Carpenter and senior centerfielder Shannon Chalker. All three hits were singles.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Lady Bulldogs struck for 13 runs on five hits. The hits came off the bats of the following players: Herkel, a RBI single; Poss, a two-run double; Carpeter, a RBI double; Brea Boutwell, a RBI triple; and Jadah Lawson, a ground-rule RBI double.
Against Washington County's Lady Golden Hawks, Thomson scored five runs in the first two frames and got solid defensive backup from their infield, as well as excellent pitching from Herkel to propel themselves into a showdown against Harlem for the region crown and another trip to the Class AAA state playoffs.
The five runs were scored on four hits. Those collecting them were: Carpenter, a RBI single; Chalker, an infield single; Wilson, a RBI triple; and Sharlette Farmer, a RBI single.
Washington County scored their first run in the bottom of the third inning, which made it a 5-1 game in favor of Thomson.
The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, scored three more runs in the top of the sixth and added two more runs for good measure in the seventh. The five runs were produced on just three hits. Those collecting them were: Herkel, a double; Khedeja Fanning, a single; and a three-run homer by Lawson, the sophomore third baseman. It was Lawson's eighth home run of the season.