Losing can be a great motivator for a high school softball team, especially for a squad unaccustomed to fastpitch failure.
That was the fire that inspired Greenbrier's 8-0 spanking of home-standing Lakeside in Area (Region) 3-AAAA action on Tuesday.
The Lady Wolfpack was still stinging from a pair of 1-0 defeats at last weekend's Shaw Invitational in Columbus, and although the six-time defending region champion came home with an 11-2 record, the players weren't satisfied.
"I thought the key was Monday at practice," Lady Pack coach Garrett Black said after the victory over Lakeside. "We had just gotten back from Columbus, I thought we were tired, and I intended to have maybe a 1-1/2 hour practice."
But when Black was ready to wrap up the Monday workout at the Brierpatch, his players had other ideas.
"We always finish practice with a round of infield and outfield," he said. "The seniors wouldn't let us go until it was perfect. We ended up staying out there another hour-and-a-half. The seniors set the tone at that practice, making sure we were ready to play Lakeside."
Lakeside's Jammie Lake tags out Greenbrier's Amanda Glover at second.
Photo by Mike Howell
With the support of a rock-solid defense, pitchers Kristan Glover and Jenni Massingale combined on a one-hit shutout, while the Lady Pack offense pounded out 12 hits. Seniors Nikki Smith and Katie Sutherland each had a pair of hits, with Smith swatting two doubles. Amanda Glover and Brittnay Leverett added two hits apiece, while Amy Rigdon chipped in a two-run single.
"We hit as a team, we fielded as a team, and we won as a team," Smith said. "We definitely needed that, especially for our enthusiasm toward the game. The losses in Columbus brought us down a little bit, but this brought us back up."
With the win, Greenbrier improved to 12-2, and 3-0 in Region 3-AAAA. Through that 14-game stretch, the team allowed only four runs. The Lady Pack has a key game this week at the Brierpatch against region newcomer Jones County. The teams will tangle Thursday at 7 p.m.
Jones County is one of the few squads which has gotten the best of Greenbrier. In four previous meetings at the state sectional tournament, the Lady Greyhounds have posted three wins.
Now that the Lady Pack is back on track, it's Lakeside turn to rise from the ashes. The Lady Panthers committed five errors Tuesday, including two costly miscues in the third which led to four unearned runs.
"We didn't get beat by Greenbrier. We beat ourselves," Lakeside pitcher Ashlee Pate said.
Losing to Greenbrier is more than motivation for Lakeside - it's a painful reminder of the prep pecking order in Columbia County.
The Lady Pack is a perfect six-for-six in region title attempts, and Lakeside has been relegated to runners-up the past two seasons.
After the loss Tuesday, the Lady Panthers dropped to 7-5 overall, and 2-1 in region play, but they could get another crack at Greenbrier in the Region 3-AAAA tournament next month.
That's why Pate ignores the lingering pain from off-season shoulder surgery. The senior needs another operation, but before going under the knife, she wants to finish her final high school fastpitch campaign.
There's no need to search for motivation - it comes dressed in green and gold.
"Our defense is the best thing about our team. Tonight we struggled just a little bit, but I know they'll be there next time," Pate said. "We'll come back from this and beat Greenbrier."
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