On Wednesday, the Harlem High School softball team swept past Vidalia into the Georgia High School Association Class AA State Softball Tournament Elite 8 for the second straight season.
The two victories gave Harlem 12 consecutive wins, a stretch in which Harlem outscored its opponents 110-8.
The Lady Bulldogs’ stars were on full display in the second round sweep of Vidalia. Amber Garrett worked all eight innings of an extra-inning nail-biter and Lindsey Stokes delivered the game-winning hit as Harlem took Game 1, 3-2. In Game 2, the Lady Bulldogs cruised to a 6-1 victory. The team now stands at 28-6 on the season and has won 57 games over the last two years. This year’s team can do it all.
They hit: Going into the Vidalia series, they had a team batting average of .326 and were averaging 8.5 runs per game.
They pitch and play defense: They had a team earned run average of 1.80 and were allowing only 2.28 runs-per-game, surrendering two runs or less in 28 of their 36 games. They run the bases: The Lady ’Dogs have swiped 60 bases in 63 attempts.
They are balanced: Seven of Harlem’s regular players are hitting .323 or higher.
They have all those great numbers plus they may have the best hitter in the state in their senior third baseman Lindsey Stokes. As a junior in 2012, Stokes hit .524 with a county-best seven homers. While those numbers are slightly down, her all-around game was better this year. She is hitting .482 with an on-base percentage of .598 and a slugging percentage of .927.
She has five of Harlem’s eight home runs and leads the county with 40 RBI and 50 runs scored. She also has 12 doubles, five triples and is 9 for 9 on stolen base attempts. In 112 trips to the plate she has walked 26 times and only struck out twice. TWICE ALL YEAR!
In addition to Stokes, Harlem has one of the top pitchers in Georgia in sophomore standout Amber Garrett. Last year, Garrett burst onto the scene going 16-4 with a 1.29 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 113 innings of work. She has been even more dominant in 2013. In 25 starts she is now 22-5 with an astonishing 184 strikeouts in 135 innings on the hill. She also boasts an ERA of 1.32 with 17 complete games and nine shutouts. Garrett has been solid at the plate as well. She is hitting .411 with two homers and 28 RBI. Like Stokes, she has been difficult to strike out. In 95 plate appearances she has only been fanned four times and has an on-base percentage of .521.
Here are a few other Lady Bulldogs who have played key roles in the team’s success.
Bailey Sheppard (sophomore): Hitting .402 with six doubles and 19 RBI.
Madison Summers (freshman): Hitting .357 with a team-best 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts.
Ashley Lunz (junior): Steady on defense, hitting .288, and has swiped 11 bases in 12 attempts.
Cassie Blizzard (freshman): Hitting .324 with nine doubles and 18 RBI.
Lizzie Drake (sophomore): Has given Harlem a No. 2 starter, going 6-0 with a 2.22 ERA while hitting .323.
Christian Mullis (senior): She is hitting .326 with four doubles, three triples and 21 RBI.
Only two of those eight are seniors, so it looks like Harlem should continue to shine for several years.