DUBLIN, Ga. -- All the hard work, sacrifice and determination has finally paid off for the Briarwood Academy Lady Buccaneers.
They now have a state softball title to cherish for a lifetime.
The Lady Buccaneers swept Oak Mountain Academy's Lady Warriors in the best-of-three-game Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) Class A Girls' Softball State Championship Series at Southern Pines Regional Park in Dublin last Saturday. It marks the first time in school history that Briarwood Academy has won a state softball crown. They finished runners-up a year ago in the GISA state playoffs.
They defeated Oak Mountain 12-4 in Game 1 and 10-1 in Game 2, which earned them the state title.
"It's an exciting time for all of us at Briarwood Academy," said head coach Hannah DeMore. "This is something we've been wanting for a long, long time. Finally, it's happened. I'm just so excited for the girls. They really worked hard to make this happen."
Coach DeMore said it was important that her team won Game 1.
"We wanted to come out and win that first game so we wouldn't have our backs against the wall,' said coach DeMore. "The girls did exactly what we wanted them to do. And they did the same thing in the second game. We couldn't have asked them to do more. They hit the ball, scored runs and played solid defense."
The tone of the championship series was set in Game 1.
The Lady Buccaneers, who had beaten Oak Mountain's Lady Warriors 16-0 the week before in the Final Four tournament held at the same softball complex near Dublin, wasted no time getting runs on the scoreboard. They pushed across four runs in the second and third inning and four more over the next three innings to win Game 1 of the state championship series.
Prior to Briarwood Academy's four run outburst in the bottom of the second inning, Oak Mountain jumped out to a 2-0 lead with runs in both the first and second innings. During that time, the Lady Warriors tagged Briarwood Academy junior pitcher Maegan Bentley for five hits.
After the Lady Buccaneers went up 4-2 after two innings of play, Bentley settled down and allowed the Lady Warriors just four more hits the rest of the game. She ended up striking out four batters and walked two in Game 1. Bentley also pitched Game 2. She fanned four batters, gave up no walks and yielded seven hits.
Bentley and second baseman Kris Dawson were selected co-Most Valuable Players of the Game by The McDuffie Mirror . Both players are juniors.
Briarwood's first four runs of Game 1 crossed home plate in the bottom of the second inning.
Eighth grade catcher Cameron Stadler drew a walk to get things started. Rachel Coxwell, who had been hurt all season long until recently, spelled her on the base path. After first baseman Tiffany Pate lined out to the shortstop, Bentley followed with a single that placed runners on the corners for Briarwood Academy. Left fielder MacKenzie Simpson then struck out. Bentley, meanwhile, was lifted for courtesy runner Morgan Bentley, her younger sister.
It brought about the top of the lineup where centerfielder Emily Henderson lined a RBI single into left field that scored Coxwell and made it a 2-1 game. Shortstop Copeland Price kept the two-out rally going with a RBI infield single that tied the game, 2-2. Henderson and Price eventually scored on a two-run double by Dawson.
In the top of the third, Oak Mountain made it a one-run game again, 4-3.
The Lady Buccaneers returned in the bottom of the third and blew the game open with four more runs. They led at that point, 8-3 and never looked back.
The four runs were scored on five hits. Those delivering those hits included: Pate, a single; Bentley, a RBI triple; Price, a two-run single; Dawson, a RBI single; and Maria Celeste Johnson, a single.
In the fourth inning, Briarwood Academy tallied two more runs on a single by Pate and a RBI double by Bentley.
Coxwell and Price scored the Lady Buccaneers' last two runs of the game. Four other players collected hits during the last two innings. They included: Stadler, a single; Pate, a RBI double; Dawson, a single; and right fielder Nicole Jones, a RBI single.
In Game 2, Briarwood Academy seemed to smell the prize ahead.
They exploded for four runs on five hits in the top of the first inning and ended up coasting to victory and winning the school's first-ever softball state championship. The five hits were delivered off the bats of the following players: Henderson, an infield single; Dawson, a double; Jones, a RBI single; Pate, a RBI single; and Bentley, RBI infield single.
Oak Mountain head coach Kelly Brumfield, in her second year along with her Lady Warriors, didn't lie down and quit, even though their backs were against the wall. In fact, sophomore pitcher Jessi Fuller and her teammates held the Lady Buccaneers scoreless the next four innings.
That all changed in the top of the sixth inning as the Lady Buccaneers scored four more runs to increase their lead to 8-1. Those runs scored on four hits by: Price, a double; Dawson, a RBI triple; Johnson, a RBI triple; and Pate, a RBI infield single.
Oak Mountain scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ann Marie Sammon led off with a single and eventually scored on a fielding miscue by Briarwood Academy.
In the seventh inning, the Lady Buccaneers pushed across two insurance runs on three hits. Those hits came from Henderson, a single; Price, a RBI double; and Johnson, a RBI single.