Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The North Augusta High School softball team had a taste of the playoffs on Friday night.
Facing Dutch Fork and standout pitcher Hayley Elkins, a High School Sports Report softball player to watch, the Jackets (13-9, 6-3 Region 5 AAAA) were pitted against one of the best teams and pitchers in the state. In a hotly contested game, Dutch Fork came out on top, 2-1.
“We battled,” Derrick Quinn, North Augusta’s head coach, said. “That girl right there (Elkins) is probably one of the top three best pitchers in the state and we had a chance to win. That’s all you really ask for, when it comes down to it, your pitcher gives you a chance, you battle and have a chance to win in the end.”
For Quinn and the Jackets, the game offered a glimpse of what the playoffs will be like.
“It was a playoff atmosphere, we’re all playing for a big spot in our region,” he said. “They’re a real good team with a great pitcher. This playoff atmosphere can only help us when we get into the playoffs.”
The game against Dutch Fork also served as Senior Night, as the Jackets celebrated the careers of six players.
“We’ve been waiting for this since we were seventh and eighth graders,” Chelsea Newman, senior first baseman for the Jackets, said. “We’ve all been playing together since we were like 10, and it’s bittersweet because we’ll all be going our separate ways next year. I love all of those girls so much, they’re like my sisters. I’m going to miss them.”
After falling to Midland Valley 8-1 on Monday, the focus for North Augusta is on the first round of the playoffs, where they will travel to play Conway on Thursday night.
“For us to go far, they all have to step up,” Quinn said. “I’ve got six seniors and, to go far in the playoffs, they’ve got to step it up and play their best softball. We’re going to work on everything, we’re trying to make sure we’re as good as we can be going into the playoffs. Everything can be better.”
Newman wants to see her team improve on working as a team, which can lead them to a deep playoff run.
“I want us to play at the best of our ability, no matter what the scenario or who we’re playing,” she said. “I want us to work together as a team, as much as we possibly can, and work hard.”
The Jackets will travel to play Conway in the first round of the District VII playoffs on Thursday.