The Thomas Heyward Academy softball team came through two days of the SCISAA state tournament unscathed, going 3-0 Saturday and advancing to the Class 2-A championship series next week against Colleton Prep.
The Rebels (26-3) defeated Holly Hill Academy, Williamsburg Academy and Marlboro Academy -- all without yielding a run -- to reach the final stage of their hunt for a state title. They will be facing a Colleton Prep squad with which they are quite familiar. The teams have played four times this season, with Thomas Heyward winning three of those.
Monday's opener will be at 5:30 p.m. at Colleton Prep. Game 2 will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Thomas Heyward and Game 3, if necessary, will be at a neutral site on Wednesday.
"They're a very solid team, very scrappy team," Thomas Heyward coach Bob Layman said. "It's going to be a tough series."
Ashlie Layman pitched all three games Friday and Saturday for the Rebels. She tossed a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts in the 8-0 win over Holly Hill -- a game that began Friday and was halted by rain with three outs left.
Brielle Jungblut, Taylor Ernestine, Kayla Canavan, Caitlyn Cooler and Layman each had two hits in the opener, with Canavan, Cooler and Layman also driving in a run.
The Rebels made quick work of Williamsburg Academy, winning 10-0 in five innings. Layman held Williamsburg to one hit and struck out four. Brianna Kelnhofer was 3 for 3 to lead the offense. Layman was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and Canavan and Chandler Cook had two hits apiece. Sarah Malphrus was 1 for 1 and drove in the game-ending run.
After a major rain delay, the Rebels capped off their weekend with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Marlboro Academy. Thomas Heyward made three double plays in the victory.
"This was a heck of a ballgame," Bob Layman said. "I can't say enough about the defense. It was certainly a team effort."
Ernestine was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, driving in Layman both times. She also went 2 for 3 while throwing a five-hitter.
In a 1-0 game in the fifth inning, Kelnhofer came up big in center field. She made a catch with the bases loaded and then threw home for a double play.
Jungblut had another outfield assist the next inning, making an out in right field and throwing out a runner at home for another double play.
Appropriately, Cooler made the final out of the game, diving to make a play at second base.