Lady Jackets bow out of playoffs following extra-innings loss
The season is over for the North Augusta High School varsity softball team.
It is an unfamiliar spot for the Jackets. Head coach Derrick Quinn said that this is something that the program “is not accustomed to.” According to Quinn, it had been nine years since the team did not have a home playoff game, and he could not recall a time his team has failed to win a playoff game.
“I can’t remember, it’s been before the century,” Quinn joked. “It’s just a little bump in the road, but these girls are real good and I’m sure we’ll respond. We’ll just give it a week or so to get over all of this and get ready to go.”
North Augusta (13-12) was forced to play catch-up from the very first inning against Carolina Forest, who jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. The Panthers, who were ranked third in the state in AAAA softball, ended up winning in dominant fashion, 10-0. The Jackets were only able get four hits off Carolina Forest’s Emily Merriam. North Augusta also committed three errors in the game.
“We just didn’t respond really well to (the early deficit),” Quinn said.
Against Stratford, in an elimination game, North Augusta was able to force extra innings. Eventually the Knights put the game away with an 8-7 win, ending the Jackets’ season. Sarah Fulmer, in her final game, had two doubles and a triple.
“I guess you could say we didn’t close the deal,” Quinn said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s kind of a reflection on our entire season to tell you the truth.”
With such a young team, the experience of the playoffs could be beneficial going forward.
“Any experience can’t hurt you, hopefully they can learn from it and learn what the playoff atmosphere is like,” Quinn remarked.
He also noted that a number of younger players also stepped up during the team’s playoff appearance. This included Karly Heath, a seventh-grader at designated hitter, eighth-grader Grace Wallace at catcher and right fielder Maddie Shiver, a freshman.
“Karly really played well for us, and Grace also did very well behind the plate,” Quinn said. “Maddie, I believe, also had the second most hits on the team in the playoffs.”
Meghan Whitfield, whose arm the team rode to the playoffs, was not at her best. Quinn was quick to note, however, that the losses were not just a reflection of Whitfield’s performance on the mound.
“We gave the other teams too many chances, but first off we didn’t play good defense behind her,” he said. “We just gave up too many walks. The last two games weren’t a reflection on her. She did really well for us all year.”
With the team losing just two seniors to graduation Fulmer and shortstop Jacquie Hill most of the core will be returning.
“As long as they continue to get better I expect to have a real good season next year,” Quinn said.