Now in his fifth season with Northside softball, head coach Brandon Jenkins said he’s never had a team as close as this year’s squad. With 13 games now in the books, it sure seems like that unity is paying major dividends.
The Lady Patriots extended their hot start to the 2017 season Tuesday, defeating region foe Shaw 12-0 in four innings. Freshman Karlee Fuller pitched well in her second start, giving up only two hits while notching three strikeouts. Fuller helped herself out offensively, as she was 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs.
Right fielder Jada Chadwick also played an important role for the Northside offense, ending the day with a 3-for-3 mark and 2 RBIs.
“It went pretty good,” Jenkins said. “By about the second inning, we started squaring the ball up and hitting the ball in the gap. As usual, our pitching was really, really good.”
The victory leaves Northside with a 12-1 record, a mark made even more impressive considering the team played its first 12 games in the span of 13 days.
Jenkins explained he gave his players three days off prior to Tuesday’s win in an effort to give everyone involved some rest. He said it was a tactic he normally would not use in the middle of the season, but considering the signs of wear and tear some are already showing, he felt the timing was right.
On Tuesday, it certainly looked like the strategy paid off.
Northside put up three runs in the opening inning, with Raelee Weaver’s two-run double being the highlight of the frame. After Fuller set down the Lady Raiders 1-2-3 in the top of the second, the Lady Patriots went right back at it, putting up seven more runs via four hits and several walks.
From there, the Lady Patriots were in total control.
Fuller is one of the bright newcomers to Northside this fall. Hitting in the cleanup spot, Fuller has quickly made it clear that the opposition won’t get a break if it pitches around center fielder Hannah George, who is committed to North Carolina.
Jenkins said Fuller is hitting over .400 so far this season, which is a solid debut to say the least. Coupled with her strong pitching, it’s evident Fuller is establishing herself as a productive part of the team.
“I’m glad to be out there supporting my team and pitching good,” Fuller said. “I’m kind of getting into the rhythm now. There’s still a few nerves.”
Fuller echoed Jenkins’ words about the early string of wins, saying the the team’s close-knit nature has been key. For Jenkins, the goal now is trying to keep everyone on track toward a common goal.
Northside played for the Class 4A state championship a year ago. This edition of the Lady Patriots have shown the potential to make a similar run, but Jenkins knows better than anyone there’s still a long road ahead.
“It’s not a secret — we’ve got a pretty good team,” Jenkins said. “We’ve got really good pitching, and if we do what we’re supposed to from here on out, we can put ourselves in a good position. We’ve just got to keep them focused.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports