COLUMBUS -- The Calhoun Lady Jackets got off to about the best start they could’ve imagined on Thursday at the Class AAA Elite Eight in Columbus. In their first two games of the festivities, the offense combined to score 22 runs, their starting pitcher gave up one run and their defense played nearly flawless in the field.
Those factors added up to two victories and a berth in the winner’s bracket finals on 6 p.m. Calhoun (28-8) first disposed of Rutland in the first round with a 8-0 win in five innings and then capped off the night with a 14-1 drubbing of Bremen in five innings.
The Lady Jackets advance to the next round on Friday at 6 p.m. where they will meet Worth County, and the winner will earn a berth in the Class AAA State Finals.
“I’m so happy with my girls,” said Calhoun coach Diane Smith. “We came out ready to play today. And we were able to finish the night beating Bremen, which is a team we wanted to get another chance at after they beat us in the regular season. The girls took care of business. That’s two wins down, and we’ve got two more to go to get that state title.”
In the first game, Calhoun took control in the third inning against Rutland with five runs, thanks to a two-run homer from Lyndi Rae Davis, a solo shot from Adella Carver and RBIs from Anna Taylor and Audrey Wilbanks. They added two more in the fourth on an RBI-double from Erin Barnes and an RBI-single from Carver, and then finished things off with an RBI-single from Davis in the fifth.
The offense was even more explosive in Game 2 as they scored two in the first, three in the third, five in the fourth and four in the fifth to force the mercy rule.
Once again the duo of Davis and Carver came through in the middle of the lineup, combining for three homers, two doubles and nine RBIs. Carver completed her incredible Day 1 of the Elite Eight with a two-run homer and three-run homer to bring her RBI total to seven for the day, and Davis hit a two-run homer and had two RBI-doubles to give her seven RBIs on the opening day of the tournament.
“Those two in the heart of the order were huge today, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from them,” said Smith of Carver and Davis. “Adella told me before we got started today that she was going to get ahold of a few, and Lyndi Rae thinks she’s going to hit a homer every time she bats. They are both very confident, and they showed what they could do today in a big way.”
Also contributing offensively in Game 2 was Barnes with two hits, including a double, to go with three RBIs, Carlie Henderson with a hit, three walks and four runs scored and Tori Roper with a triple and a run scored.
As good as the offense was, Calhoun freshman pitcher Maggie McBrayer was just as solid, throwing two five-inning complete games to earn two wins. In Game 1, she struck out four in the shutout, and in Game 2 she gave up seven hits, but got several key outs to strand Bremen runners with little or no damage. She allowed one run and stuck out one.
“Maggie was fantastic,” said Smith. “She held her composure, and I really couldn’t ask for anything more from her. She is a leader in that circle, and that speaks volumes about what kind of player she is only being a freshman.”
Smith added she is pleased with the start her team is off to, and she hopes they continue with the same approach and determination moving forward in Columbus.
“I told the girls that this game tonight (against Bremen) was the one that was going to make a big difference in winning or losing the whole thing, and they stepped up to the challenge,” said Smith. “They were ready physically and mentally today. Now, we’ve just got to do the same thing tomorrow.”