The North Oconee High School varsity softball team defeated East Hall High School 8-0 in five innings on Tuesday night to advance to 16-12 (9-8). The Titans have one regular season game remaining before entering state playoffs next week as a fourth seed.
Freshman Maddie Johnson pitched six strikeouts and allowed two hits against the Vikings. She also turned a bunt hit into a solo home run off an error in the first inning.
“Maddie’s (Johnson) bulldog and she competed the entire night,” Titans head coach Bill Dooley said about his pitcher. “Her changeup and her drop ball were working tonight, which is something we don't use a lot. She’s had to become a pitcher that she hasn't been all year, which was very nice to see for a freshman. She was able to adjust and maintain her composure and still do as well as she’s been doing.”
Viking’s pitcher Calli Hardison pitched four strike outs and kept the Titans off base until the fifth inning. The Titans hit and stole their way to seven runs and a full rotation of the lineup.
The Titans started with a single bunt from Cameron Harkey and two sacrifice plays, including an RBI from Kaleigh Bond. Even with two outs, the Titans played aggressive and kept getting players on base. Mally Burruss and Caroline Branch stole every plate and scored runs off errors. Bailey Bowen ended the game with a single RBI and a Carsyn Bassett run.
NOHS will travel to Morgan County High School on Wednesday night for a final tune up before state playoffs begin next week.
“That's where I coached for three years as an assistant and Coach McBay and I are really good friends. A lot of what we do comes from what they do, so it should be an exciting game. For both of us, it's a preparation game for the playoffs. We're playing each other to make sure we're still ready for next week,” Dooley said.
Dooley transformed the Titans from 3-21 to a 16-12 playoff bound team in his first year back as head coach.
“Last year from last year to this year, you know, it's been such a big difference for them and they're excited. But I told them, don't just be content. I told them, we haven’t finished this year yet. We want to keep going as long as we can and just do the best we can, especially for our seniors,” Dooley said.