HARLEM — It was a historic night Wednesday when the Harlem Lady Bulldogs softball team won its first-ever region championship.
While it was a team effort, they got dominating performances on the mound from freshman Amber Garrett and big hits from Abbie Drake in beating Screven County 10-0 and 4-2 to win the Region 3-AA title.
“This is what we cut out to do,” Harlem coach Mike Leverett said. “We said we were going to go try to win the region, so now we won the region. We get to play a No. 4 seed here at home (in the state playoffs) and it don’t get no better than that.”
Harlem’s run at the Class AA Softball State Tournament begins at home Wednesday.
Garrett (12-4) was masterful on the mound. While she and her teammates were clubbing 14 hits, scoring 10 runs in a five-inning affair, Garrett threw a no-hitter while striking out four in the first game. She entered Game 2 with the Lady Bulldogs (24-7) leading 4-2 in the fifth inning and shut down the Lady Gamecocks (13-13) over the final three innings. She again allowed no hits, striking out two of the final three batters. In three tournament appearances she notched two wins and a save while allowing just two hits in 11 innings of work.
“My curveball was my go-to pitch and my rise ball was working,” Garrett said. “I’m so excited I got to experience this with my team,” she said with a broad smile.
Leverett noted how far she has come.
“She came in as a freshman and has grown into a senior freshman,” he said laughing.
In the second game, the Lady Bulldogs trailed 2-0 entering the fifth inning, having squandered scoring opportunties the previous two at-bats. Tori Poss and Christian Mullis led off with singles and moved up on a sacrifice by Haley Mays. Drake drilled a 2-2 pitch deep into the right-field corner for a triple to tie the game. Lindsey Stokes and Garrett then delivered consecutive doubles for the 4-2 lead they would not relinquish.
“There were runners on and I knew I had to get them in,” said Drake, who was perfect in three trips to the plate in game one. “I was really excited and pumped up after that.”
Kristin Rawlins (12-3) picked up the win in four innings of work while striking out four.