CONYERS - In a tune-up for today's rivalry game and first true Region 8-AAAA test with Rockdale, Heritage's softball team went 2-1 at the end of last week.
In the region opener Thursday, the Lady Patriots cruised to a 12-0, five-inning victory over Monroe Area, the Conyers school's third consecutive shutout win over the Hurricanes dating back to last season. Staff ace Nicki Walden allowed one hit over five solid innings and was aided by an offense that scored five runs in the first inning and added four more in the second.
"Monroe struggled, that's putting it mildly; it was not much of a ball game," Heritage coach Dickey Hightower said. "It went pretty good (and) it was nice to get a win. I'll take a win any time you can get one."
The Patriots followed the win over Monroe with a doubleheader split against Woodland (Henry) and Morgan County on Saturday. In a 5-0 loss to Woodland, the Lady Patriots managed just three hits against the Wolfpack and starter Hannah McBrayer. Two of the hits were from third baseman Simone Davenport.
"We sort of sleepwalked through that ball game; we didn't look like we wanted to play at all," Hightower said. "But (Woodland) played well. They've got a legitimate, nice, young ball club. They hit the ball real well."
Heritage rebounded later in the day with a 4-2 victory over Morgan County, the club's second victory over the Lady Bulldogs after a win in the Madison County Tournament on Aug. 22 .
The Lady Patriots scored a run in both the third and fourth innings, yet Morgan County rallied for the tying runs off Walden in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Heritage took the lead for good on Amanda VZoyles' two-run infield single. Voyles kept her batting average above .400, which leads the team, while Davenport, who had two more hits against Morgan County, stayed above .380.
Walden picked up another win. Coupled with Lauren Golden and Kathyrn McKie, Hightower has a capable trio in the circle.
"Everybody's doing a decent job on the mound," Hightower said. "We don't have a stopper, (but) Nicki's our No. 1."
The head coach is more concerned with the team's defense, which has had rough spells throughout the first two weeks. And with the speedy, slap-hitting style of Rockdale awaiting the Lady Patriots in today's game, Hightower is hoping the defense can put together a complete game.
"I'm pleased with the way we're playing most of the time, (but) I bet we're leading the state of Georgia in errors," he said. "We've got to correct that. I'm not sure how we correct that; we'll play five innings of decent defense, but one or two innings we can stink it up with the best of the them. Rockdale with their speed, they'll put a little pressure on us, (and) that seems to give us some trouble. We've got to keep them off base."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.