The early indicators for this Thomas Heyward Academy softball team are promising, even if its youth might not hint at great things ahead.
The Rebels' young middle of the lineup showed Thursday why the team hopes to compete for the SCISAA Class 2-A title, helping lead Thomas Heyward to a 5-2 victory at Beaufort High School.
"We came for a purpose, and we did it," said Rebels freshman Hannah Cannon, who doubled and blasted a two-run home run her first two at-bats.
The catcher Cannon, batting cleanup, is sandwiched by sophomore pitcher Selice Daley batting third and sophomore first baseman Morgan Peeples in the fifth spot. Peeples -- who had three hits and a pair of RBIs -- is Thomas Heyward's leading hitter, batting .636.
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Beaufort High managed some fight late in the game. Natalie Moore's triple and Mari Cook's two-run, opposite-field shot started the fifth inning with hope, but Daley sat down the next three batters.
Seven of Beaufort High's eight hits came from the top three in the order.
The Eagles' senior-heavy group gives coach Doug Plank hope for the Region 8-AAAA schedule and beyond. But he is hoping to see more of a finishing instinct.
"I'll go on record -- this team should be one of the top 10 teams in the state, and if things go right in the playoffs, who knows what could happen," Plank said. "They just have to decide that's what's going to happen."
The Rebels found their motivation in playing on the road at a Class 4-A public school.
Thomas Heyward only fields two seniors -- outfielders Kelsey Kelnhofer and Allison Brendlen. Its depth took a hit when sophomore Sydney Glassberg broke her arm on the basepaths after her first at-bat of the season.
Rebels coach Bob Layman expects Glassberg back before the end of the season. And he said Thomas Heyward has benefited from the return of Laynee Bryan after a year at Wade Hampton and newcomer Zoe Mitchell, the team's No. 2 pitcher.
Mitchell has thrown 10 innings in March. Layman said her development is geared to having two strong pitchers for the playoffs.
"She's still got some basic stuff she's working on, and she's getting better every day," he said.
He said Daley has been sharp her past two outings. She pitched around some tough spots Thursday.
She escaped a bases-loaded situation in the second inning without a run scored. And in the fifth inning after Cook delivered an off-speed pitch over the fence in right-center, Daley induced a pop out to foul territory and struck out the next two.
Thomas Heyward (7-4) plays Bluffton in Hardeeville on Friday as it continues to build its big-game experience early in the season.
The Rebels don't shy from the ultimate objective.
"We want to win state," Cannon said. "That's our goal, and we're going to achieve it."
Thomas Heyward 5, Beaufort High 2
Thomas Heyward 202 010 0 -- 5 11 0
Beaufort High 000 020 0 -- 2 8 0
WP: Selice Daley (4-3) 7 IP, 7 H, 10 K, 3 BB
LP: Jenny Mullins 7 IP, 11 H, 8 K, BB
Top hitters: Thomas Heyward -- Selice Daley 3 for 4, 2B, 2 R; Hannah Cannon 2 for 3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI; Morgan Peeples 3 for 4, 2 RBI. Beaufort High -- Natalie Moore 3 for 4, 3B, R; Mari Cook 2 for 4, HR, 2 RBI; Michelle Brown 2 for 4.
Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.