By Chris Bridges
The Piedmont Academy fast-pitch softball team can now say “mission accomplished.”
The Lady Cougars (18-3-1) swept Briarwood Academy 7-1 and 10-5 in the GISA Class AA state championship series in Dublin last week for the second state championship in program history. Piedmont went undefeated in the postseason and stopped a strong Lady Buccaneer team.
“This has been a season to remember for sure,” coach Joe Johnson said. “This group of young ladies have worked very hard since the third week of June and they definitely earned this state championship. I couldn’t be any prouder of them for it.”
After Piedmont won game one in the best-of-three series on Thursday, the teams ventured to Dublin once more on Saturday. Briarwood took early control of game two of the series, leading 5-1 after the top of the third inning.
The Lady Cougars, however, would score three runs in the bottom of the third, fourth and fifth innings. Briarwood was unable to push any additional runs across home plate and Piedmont was able to celebrate winning the state championship trophy.
Emily McEwen helped pace the Lady Cougars at the plate in the series-clinching game, driving in four runs. Maddie Waddleton also had two RBI while Haley Ann Frank collected two hits including a triple and an RBI. Marissa Holder drew two walks.
Averi Camp went the distance in the pitcher’s circle recording two strikeouts.
Piedmont overcame four errors in the contest.
“Saturday’s game was a bit different from the first one in the series,” Johnson said. “The first couple of innings we couldn’t do anything right defensively, gave up some runs early. We finally settled in and started getting the ball in play for the win and the championship.”
In the first game of the series on Thursday the Lady Cougars led 1-0 after the top of the first inning. That lead held up all the way until the sixth when Briarwood tied the score.
The top of the seventh inning saw Piedmont score six runs to take control. The Lady Cougars finished the game with nine hits compared to only three for Briarwood.
In the seventh, Holder singled to score Emily Whitwell for a 2-1 lead. Ava Anglin then drove in Frank and Holder. A sacrifice fly by Fleming Sealy scored Teagan Satterfield.
Waddleton then had an RBI single to bring home Anglin. Jayden Young also had an RBI single in the inning to score Waddleton.
Frank had three hits on Thursday while Waddleton connected for two and Holder added one. Frank and Waddleton both drew walks.
Anglin finished the game with three RBI while Holder and Waddleton both had one.
“Thursday’s game went well defensively,” Johnson said. “We made a lot of big plays to keep them from scoring. Offensively we couldn’t put much together until the top of the seventh when we finally started putting some hits and some good base running together to score six runs. We then held them three-up, three-down in the bottom of the seventh for the win.”
McEwen pitched seven innings for Piedmont with three strikeouts. Madison Kay pitched well for Briarwood, especially in first six innings, finishing with several strikeouts.
“This was definitely the most stressful series not just because it was for the state championship, but because Briarwood was going to bring some new challenges, “Johnson said. “They had four slappers in their lineup and two really good pitchers so we went to work on last Monday trying to get ready for that.”