The Lady Jackets (23-1, 8-1 Region 4-AAAA) suffered their only defeat of the season March 11 at the hands of the Lady Timberwolves (16-4, 5-2) in a 3-2, nine-inning classic.
Friday's contest looked to be another pitching duel between North Augusta's Lauren Rickabaugh and White Knoll's Shelley Jeffcoat.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Lady Jackets scored the game's first run when junior Lindsey Jones led off the inning with a double, then took third on a wild pitch, before scoring on an Aubrey Lamar sacrifice fly.
The Lady Jackets broke the game open the following inning, when Ashley Burke drove in Jessica Counts with a sacrifice fly and Kaylee Spires plated a run with a triple to right to make it 3-0. Two batters later, Lamar drove in two more runs with a single to left, making it 5-0. Lamar, a sophomore, now holds the team's single-season record with 45 RBI.
Even with a comfortable lead, Rickabaugh (16-1) never relented, painting the corners and changing speeds. She tallied 11 strikeouts on the night.
"Before, I was throwing strikes to where they could hit it," Rickabaugh said of the previous meeting with White Knoll. "Tonight, I threw it all around the plate, kept them guessing so they wouldn't know what was coming."
In the bottom of the sixth, Peaches Caldwell doubled and scored on an error to make it 6-0. Then, with runners on second and third, Counts drilled her fourth home run of the year to center to put the Lady Jackets up 9-0.
"We didn't hit the ball very good the first time we played them," North Augusta coach Derrick Quinn said. "(Kirby is) a really good pitcher, but we finally started making adjustments and making her work to us. But I've got a pretty good hitting team."
The Lady Jackets could clinch the Region 4-AAAA title with a win April 18 over Irmo.
Reach J. Scott Trubey at (706) 823-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.