Fox Creek Predators streak into playoffs, off to play Great Falls
Heading into the playoffs, things couldn’t have gone much better for the Fox Creek High School varsity softball team.
The Predators will be the No. 1 seed as the Region 4-A champion. Over the past week, the team defeated Hunter-Kinard-Tyler by forfeit, 1-0; beat Wardlaw Academy, 6-1; tied Aiken, 10-10; beat Wagener-Salley, 5-2; and wrapped up the season with a win over Cardinal Newman 9-4. The team also is ranked third in the state in Class A softball.
Fox Creek (14-6-1, 12-0 Region 4-A) will host Great Falls on Thursday at 5 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs.
The win over Wardlaw Academy was the first time that Fox Creek was able to beat Wardlaw on the road. The tie against Aiken, an 4-A school, was another feather in the Predators’ caps as they hung tough with a far larger opponent. The team’s previous matchups with 4-A schools came at the start of the year against White Knoll and North Augusta, both of which were losses.
Morgan Matthews led the charge for the Predators against Aiken, going 3-for-3 with her first career home run. Nicole Gibson had three RBIs to lead the team in that category. Stefanie Bloedel had another strong showing on the mound, striking out 13 Hornets and allowing one earned run in six innings.
“We were both in a slugfest that night,” David Bell, Fox Creek head coach, said.
The win against Wagener-Salley completed a perfect run through the region for the Predators. Erin Harrison went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, and Bloedel picked up the win on the mound, striking out 12 in seven innings. Bloedel also had an uncharacteristic lack of control, issuing six walks in the game.
“They played really well, and my pitcher was a little off today, but our bats came through,” Bell said. “Especially the girls at the bottom of the order. Some of them hadn’t been hitting and came through big for us.”
Fox Creek’s offense has been humming throughout the year without a number of players hitting. The Predators had 11 games scoring 10-plus runs, and now with the entire lineup hitting well, the sky seems to be the limit.
“We just had several girls who haven’t been leaders on our team come up and hit for us,” Bell said. “Erin Harrison has been playing good defense for us all year, but she came up with some big hits for us and broke out.”
Having ended the regular season with tough tests against Wardlaw Academy, Aiken, Wagener-Salley and Cardinal Newman, Bell hopes that his team will have had a taste of what is to come in the playoffs.
“Nobody has just been able to silence our bats, so going into the playoffs, I hope we’ll be able to hit,” Bell joked. “I’ve got my fingers crossed.”
The Predators will once against turn to Bloedel and Hannah Culpepper as their two pitchers. Bloedel wrapped up the regular season with a 3.09 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 74.2 IP. Culpepper also struck out 11 in 13.2 IP.
Two wins in the playoffs would put the Predators in uncharted territory. The furthest the team has gotten in school history is the second round.