Jesse Weigers was in trouble.
The Lakeside freshman had handled the duties of starting pitcher with surprising maturity in the first region game of the year against Evans on Wednesday. She didn't know she was starting until five minutes before game time, but her pitch location and movement had allowed her to reach the top of the sixth inning with a two-run lead.
That's when the trouble began.
A leadoff walk, a fielder's choice and another walk marked a bad start to the inning for Weigers. An error on the next at bat loaded the bases with one out, but Lakeside's defense quickly got the second out on another fielder's choice when third baseman Kaitlin Hill scooped up a grounder and fired to home for the force out.
With two outs and the bases loaded in a region game the rest was up to Weigers, but things didn't go as they were supposed to.
"I got really frustrated then when the umpire called a ball on a third strike. The bases were loaded, it was two outs and I couldn't believe it," she said.
She was still in the jam, and Lakeside's No. 5 hitter was at the plate.
"I told myself I've got to relax. I was getting over-excited and I needed to breathe," Weigers said. "Kaitlin came over and calmed me down and said it's your time not theirs. She's the best supporter on the team."
The words of wisdom did their job. Weigers got the next batter to hit a weak grounder to shortstop for the third out of the inning. Lakeside escaped without giving up a run, and Weigers finished the complete-game two-hitter with a 2-0 win over Evans.
Hill was supposed to pitch in the game but didn't because of a pulled muscle in her arm. The junior ace started at third base instead.
"I planned on pitching this game until I started warming up this weekend and yesterday. That's when I could tell it wasn't getting better fast enough," Hill said. "It was disappointing, but I knew that I had two people behind me who could do the job."
Hill's inability to pitch left Lakeside softball coach Christine Gisler with a pair of freshman rookies as her only choices to start at pitcher in the Lady Panthers' first region game of the season. The choice wasn't easy, but she made the right one.
"Both freshman are equally capable of the job," Gisler said. "It didn't concern me, but I was concerned about how the other players were going to respond to it because Kaitlin is a huge member of the team."
The Lady Panthers responded with a defensive stand in which they committed only one error in seven innings.
Weigers chipped in with the best game of her high school career in the pitching circle. In fact, it was the only start of her high school career.
"I found out right before the game (I was starting)," Weigers said. "I was a little nervous and a little excited because I'm kind of new at starting."
The win gave Lakeside a 1-0 start to the Region 3B-AAAA schedule. The Lady Panthers will next face Richmond Academy at home Tuesday in another region game.
Greenbrier also started its region schedule off with a win last week. The Lady Wolfpack, ranked Class AAAA No. 2 in last week's poll, forced the mercy rule on visiting Statesboro in a 10-0 win on Tuesday.
Lady Wolfpack pitcher Kassie Bailey (3-0) picked up the win while also leading the way at the plate. Bailey hit 2-for-3 with three RBI in the fourth-and-a-half inning game. Sophomore Kaila Hunt hit 2-for-2 on the day. After Greenbrier's first nine games, Hunt's batting average now sits at .593.
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