COLUMBUS, Ga. — When the final out of the 2018 Class AA softball state championship was recorded, tears streamed down the faces of Social Circle softball players.
But those tears were tears of joy, as the Lady Redskins won the first state title in program history with a 9-1 route of rival Banks County.
The words “I can’t believe it” came out of the mouths of many of the Lady Redskins as they embraced immediately after the championship. Even head coach Audra Thomas was speechless, instead simply hugging players and pumping her first in the initial moments after the win.
The win was even more special to Thomas and her senior softball players. This group of seniors was the first class to play all four years for the Lady Redskins’ head coach.
“These are my babies,” Thomas said. “For four years, they’ve done it all. They’ve worked really hard.”
Social Circle took one of the easiest routes possible to win the title — the Lady Redskins simply went undefeated in Columbus. But it’s a lot harder that it sounds.
The Lady Redskins opened the tournament with a 12-4 shellacking of Jeff Davis. From then on Social Circle would see many familiar faces, as the region 8-AA champs faced region foes Monticello and Banks County in the later rounds of the tournament.
But just as Social Circle had done in the regular season and region tournament, the Lady Redskins handed both teams losses en route to the title. Social Circle defeated Monticello 8-3 Friday afternoon, then went into extra innings with Banks County Saturday morning before pulling out the 8-7 win that gave the Lady Redskins a berth in the state championship game.
After falling to Social Circle, Banks County battled back and defeated Monticello in the losers bracket to earn its spot in the title game. However, Banks County would have needed to beat Social Circle twice in order to win the title.
The Lady Redskins weren’t having that.
Social Circle jumped out to an early 2-0 lead by the third inning, but the Lady Leopards posted a run in the bottom of the third in part to a questionable call at second base.
Ultimately the single run by Banks County proved insignificant. Social Circle added two more runs in the fourth to extend the lead to 4-1.
Then the fifth inning came along for Social Circle.
Catcher Hanna Dempsey came to the plate and, after missing the first pitch, took a ball to dead center for a solo homer. Shelby Harpe, batting two spots after Dempsey, didn’t want to be outdone and sent a solo homer of her own to almost the same, exact spot in center field.
But four batters later, Aubrey Garrett put the exclamation point on the inning with a 3-run homer to put the Redskins up 9-1.
Three outs in the bottom half of the inning sealed the mercy-rule win for the Lady Redskins and the state title.
“Playing Banks County is never an easy task. That team is stacked,” Thomas said. “They have some of the best quality athletes in the state. It’s always an honor to play them, and to win this is really cool.”
Social Circle finishes the season with a 27-11 record, a region 8-AA title and most importantly a coveted Class AA state title.