Thomas Heyward advances to SCISAA softball finals; Bluffton earns road win

newsroom@islandpacket.comMay 11, 2014 

It's becoming familiar territory for Thomas Heyward Academy and softball coach Bob Layman.

The SCISAA state championship series.

For the fourth time in Layman's five seasons at the Ridgeland school, the Rebels have advanced to the state championship series. They won the title in 2011.

Thomas Heyward Academy will face Thomas Sumter Academy in a best-of-three series beginning Monday.

"If we bring the same intensity and bats that we did this weekend, we'll be OK," Layman said.

The Rebels got there Saturday with two wins in three games at the state tournament in Lexington.

In the opener, the Rebels blanked Carolina Academy in a 1-0 pitching duel.

The Rebels had just four hits, but Laynee Bryan's RBI single in the second was all they'd need. Selice Daley was dominant for Thomas Heyward, striking out nine and allowing just two hits in seven innings.

Needing one more win to reach the championship, the Rebels had a hiccup, falling to Williamsburg Academy, 2-1.

Daley surrendered just five hits, striking out three.

For Thomas Heyward, Sydney Glassberg was 2 for 4 and Bryan was 1 for 1 with two walks and scored the Rebels' only run.

But Thomas Heyward bounced back, routing Williamsburg Academy 12-2 in five innings.

"I think the girls got a little upset about losing and they put it on them," Layman said.

Daley struck out five and allowed just six hits. She was also 3 for 3 at the plate with two RBIs. Glassberg was 3 for 5 with a triple and two RBIs.

Morgan Peeples was 3 for 3 with an RBI and three runs, Hannah Cannon was 3 for 3 with a triple and three RBIs and Allison Brendlen was 1 for 3 with two 2 RBIs.

The Rebels will open the championship series at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Patriot Park in Sumter. Tuesday's game will be at 6 p.m. at Thomas Heyward Academy.

The third game, if necessary, would be at a neutral site.

"We've played them three times, and they've beat us all three times," Layman said. "They've all been very good games. That's why we play tough teams during the season, so we can see what they've got."

BLUFFTON 5, STRATFORD 2

Bill Ball sounded excited, and he had reason to be.

Speaking over the phone on his way back from Stratford High School, Ball described a Bluffton High softball team that had regained its offensive identity, asserted dominance in the circle, and once again emerged victorious.

This was the Bobcats squad he has grown used to, and one that is inching ever closer to the right to play for a state championship.

The Bobcats powered their way to a convincing 5-2 victory at Stratford on Saturday in their first road trip since the start of the playoffs. Though Bluffton went 3-0 in the first phase, their bats were mostly off the mark.

That changed Saturday as the lineup piled up 11 hits, including a 4-for-4 outing from ace pitcher-turned-slugger Courtney Smith.

"My team is a team that as the game goes on, we really make great adjustments to pitchers," Ball said. "We did put in some quality at bats. We drove the ball pretty good today."

Ball said his team struggled to make good contact at first, but later corrected himself after checking the box score, saying, "I don't know what my expectations are."

The Bobcats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to a triple by Jordyn Parker, who scored on a throwing error, and a double by Kim Kerby. Stratford tied it with two runs in the second, but would get nothing more across.

The Bobcats added runs in the third, fourth and seventh innings and Smith completed her all-around act with nine strikeouts.

With the win, Bluffton advances to face Wando at Bluffton High on Monday. Ball said the team was more excited going into Saturday's game, knowing that the deeper they go in the playoffs, the closer they get to fulfilling championship aspirations.

"I think they can taste it a little more now," Ball said.

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