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First time for everything
First year coach has Rockdale County on winning track
Rockdale County pitcher Katie Ferrell has been a key to the her team’s success this season, including a 38-strikeout performance in their tourney last weekend. - photo by Brittany Thomas

If he keeps up at this pace, first year Rockdale softball coach Justin Arrington’s sport-switch experiment will be a rousing success.

Although the Lady Bulldogs (7-2, 1-1 8B-AAAA) lost to Loganville 9-1 in a mercy-ruled home game on Thursday night at their new field, the season has been better than most expected so far.

Well, at least most folks besides new wundercoach Arrington.

"We’ve got a good crew and we think can do some things," said Arrington, who is already the school’s baseball coach and took on double duty with the softball job after he and the school decided it would be good for the program.

After beating Locust Grove 12-0 in the season opener on Aug. 20, the Lady Bulldogs went to Social Circle for the 2nd Annual Redskin Invitational, pitting some of the best area teams against each other.

Rockdale beat Baldwin 12-0 and Cedar Shoals 4-1 on the tournament’s first day before dropping its first game on Saturday morning (Aug. 21) to host Social Circle 4-2.

But the girls got right back on track, beating Monticello 5-1 in the midday contest.

Because Social Circle beat Rockdale, Rockdale beat Monticello and Monticello beat Social Circle, there was a three-way tie which had to be broken by taking the teams with the fewest runs allowed.

Social Circle and Rockdale had the fewest so they had the honor of playing each other again in the championship game.

The Lady Bulldogs blanked Social Circle 4-0 to win the weekend.

The hard fought rematch was just as close and just as entertaining as the first game, but this time Rockdale was on the winning end. The Lady ‘Skins’ got a solid performance from their ace pitcher, senior Kelsey Herbert, who allowed 10 hits, but only two earned runs.

The difference maker was that Social Circle’s offense didn’t execute as well as it did in its first game against Rockdale. But, in fairness, the Lady Bulldogs also made some splendid plays on defense which robbed the Lady Redskins of base hits and potential runs.

Rockdale also relied on senior Katie Ferrell, who struck out 38 batters over the weekend.

"The girls rebounded well after the loss to beat Monticello and then beat Social circle in the Championship game," Arrington said. "(Katie) was also supported by outstanding defensive plays from almost everyone on the field."

The Lady Bulldogs then opened their new home stadium with a 9-0 win to open region play against Monroe Area on Tuesday.

The next day, the girls continued their dominance with another 9-0 win, this time on the road against Griffin.

By the time of Rockdale’s second home game of the year at the new stadium on Thursday, the Lady Bulldogs had outscored their last three opponents by a combined margin of 22-0.

It wasn’t a factor on that night, though, as Loganville brought Arrington’s bunch back to earth a bit with a 9-1 win that marked Rockdale’s first region loss of the year.

With the game scoreless going into the fifth inning, the Lady Devils (5-5) heated things up with eight runs during the top of the inning.

The first Lady Devil to get on base was Taylor Holcomb. After that, the hits kept coming for Loganville. Errors by Rockdale’s infield only aided in the scoring for Loganville, as the Lady Devils were able to score multiple runs with two outs in the frame.

The night only got worse for Rockdale after Loganville’s Courtney Beshel pushed the lead to 9-0 in the sixth, and the Lady Bulldogs could only manage a single run in the bottom half by Amber Mitchell, ending the game due to the mercy rule.

"My girls need to work on throwing strikes and solidifying their defense," Arrington said.

Despite their first region loss, Arrington’s girls can be sure they have the right man for the job of winning more ballgames. The next one will be doubly important as the Lady Bulldogs go across town for arguably their biggest game of the regular season so far, squaring off against rivals Heritage on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.