High School Sports

Thomas Heyward runs away with state title

The experience of coming so close but coming up short had grown too familiar for the girls who play on the softball and basketball teams at Thomas Heyward Academy.

They were runners-up in the SCISAA Class 3-A softball championship a year ago, and they again finished second in the SCISAA Class 2-A basketball tournament this season.

Quite frankly, they were tired of being second best.

"It was just getting old," junior Ashlie Layman said. "That's what pretty much pumped us up. We were ready to get the title."

They did so in a resounding manner Tuesday, finishing off a two-game sweep of Colleton Prep with a 10-0 victory in five innings to claim the SCISAA Class 2-A softball title on their home field. The Rebels won the two games by a combined score of 22-1.

"We really wanted to absolutely dominate," Thomas Heyward coach Bob Layman said. "We wanted people to know we would've been just as strong if we were still playing in 3-A. We just have a really solid group of athletes."

They showed it from the start Tuesday.

Ashlie Layman was dominant on the mound for the second night in a row, allowing just two hits and a walk in a five-inning shutout. And her teammates backed her with strong defense -- the Rebels (28-3) allowed just one run in five postseason games -- and a potent attack at the plate.

A night after pounding 12 hits in a 12-1 win at Colleton Prep, the Rebels had 11 more hits, including three for extra bases. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first, taking advantage of a pair of Warhawk errors.

"It's never easy, but these girls were so focused, so determined, that I don't think they could've been stopped whoever they played tonight," Bob Layman said.

The Rebels were reluctant to begin celebrating too early, fearful of a Colleton Prep rally, but it was clear early on that Thomas Heyward was in control. The Warhawks had a tough time squaring up Layman, and the Rebels just kept hitting.

Knowing the end of the game could be imminent because of the 10-run rule, Bob Layman made a defensive substitution in the bottom of the fourth to allow senior Weslee Sewell to exit to a large round of applause.

The rest of the Rebels' starters will be back for an encore, but they were in no hurry to start thinking about next year. They'll take some time to savor a moment they've come so close to tasting twice before.

"I think it feels even better than I thought it would," said Taylor Ernestine, who had two hits and an RBI and scored twice. "This was the best feeling I've ever had in my life. It was awesome."

CPA 000 00 -- 0 2 2

THA 620 11 -- 10 11 1

WP: Ashlie Layman 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.

LP: Brittan Carter 5 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.

Top hitters: CPA -- Kendall Jumper 1 for 2; Courtney Kramer 1 for 2, 2B. THA -- Brianna Kelnhofer 3 for 4; Brielle Jungblut 2 for 4, 3B; Andrea Daring 1 for 3, RBI; Taylor Ernestine 2 for 3, 3B, RBI; Chandler Cook 1 for 3, 2B, RBI; Caitlyn Cooler 1 for 2, 2 RBIs.