CONYERS - After starting the year with six straight losses, the future did not look promising for Rockdale softball.
What a difference a season makes.
Rockdale ended Salem's season with an 11-3 win Monday at the Earl O'Neal Sports Complex, securing a spot in the region tournament, which begins Tuesday.
For the Lady Bulldogs (9-13 overall, 3-5 Region 8B-AAAA) it was a Senior Night they would never forget.
"I think it was probably our best game of the season, hands down," Rockdale coach Holly Hamilton said. "We jumped on them early. We were up and pumped the whole game. We (were) aggressive at the plate and we hit the ball well. The energy of just having Senior Night had them focused and ready."
Overall, the Rockdale seniors - Sammy Girardot, Hope Matthews, Kaitlin Overstreet, Kara Johnson and Stephanie Scaffe - combined for 11 hits and eight RBIs.
Meanwhile, Salem (3-17, 0-7) struggled to get into any kind of offensive rhythm.
"It was a rough season," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said. "I hate for the seniors that their last year went like that - that their last game ever would turn out that way. But all I can say is that (Monday), the census of the girls was that they had a good time and learned a lot this year.
"That's really all that I wanted this season - to teach them some things and hope that they learned and had a good time and got something out of it," she added. "It sounded like they did, so I guess that's pretty good."
Rockdale never trailed in the game after plating two runs in the first inning and five more in the second.
Salem added a run in the top of the third to make it 7-1 before Rockdale struck for four more runs in the third.
Despite scoring twice in the fifth, Rockdale prevailed by the run rule.
In the circle, Scaffe pitched a complete game to collect the win. She also had eight strikeouts.
At the plate, Scaffe was just as lethal, racking up three hits and four RBIs.
Rockdale's MeQuilla Franklin went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Cidney Scoggins added two hits.
Tori Beauchamp led Salem with a pair of hits.
"This means something because it was a region (game) and we wouldn't have probably made it to the tournament otherwise," Hamilton said. "But since Salem will not be attending the region tournament, it doesn't really help (our) confidence against a team that won't be there."
Rockdale faces Madison at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Madison County Recreation Department in Danielsville during the opening round of the Region 8-AAAA tournament.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.