Hits, defense keys for AHS

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 7, 2014

0507 spt-Emily Terry

Andalusia’s Emily Terry goes for the ball during practice Tuesday afternoon. Other than playing good defense, Lady Bulldogs coach Brad Garner said hitting is a must. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andalusia is aiming to hit the ball this weekend.

“Really, I think it comes down to whether we hit the ball or not,” Lady Bulldogs softball coach Brad Garner said. “I think at this point in time, it just seems to me like last year and this year, too; it seems to me like you just don’t have a lot of those 1-0, 2-0 games.

“When you go down there, you’re going to go down there hitting and we’re going to have to put the ball in play and put some pressure on some folks,” he said.

Garner was speaking Tuesday afternoon, just days before his team makes the trek to Gulf Shores for the Class 4A South Regional.

Andalusia (15-21) is matched up with Ashford (12-18) in the first round of the regional. First pitch is slated for 8 a.m. on Friday for the girls.

The Lady Bulldogs cruised through their area tournament last week, dispatching Monroe County 17-0 in the championship game while allowing only one run in the entire exhibition.

Garner said he really liked what he saw from the girls at the plate last week.

“I know the pitching we faced at the area tournament isn’t the same as what we’ll face down there, but it’s not so much as a result of our swings at the area tournament, it’s what they looked like,” he said. “That was very promising to me, the way we approached it. Even if you face a slower pitching team, it forces you to have to adjust. I thought we did a good job with that.”

During a three-week period this season, the Lady Bulldogs were without their full contingent of pitchers Breanna Dixon, Abbie Young and Tessa Walker.

All three are healthy going into this weekend, Garner said.

“That’s going to be a big plus,” he said.

Andalusia is on the same side of the bracket with Alabama Christian out of Montgomery, Clarke County and Ashford.

Those who remember, the Lady Bulldogs went a 10-inning round with the Yellow Jackets last season at the regional, which gave them their first loss after an opening win against Thomasville.

On the other side of the bracket, Headland and UMS-Wright highlight a strong group along with Monroe County and Loveless Academy Magnet (LAMP).

“There aren’t some teams there who aren’t significant,” Garner said, naming Charles Henderson as one. “You go, why aren’t they there? That must be some pretty good teams that beat them. Trinity out of Montgomery is the same way. They’ve been there several years and they aren’t there.”

In order to gain a berth to the state tournament, the Lady Bulldogs must win their first three games. Winning the first two on Friday is a must.

“That puts you having to win one more regardless,” Garner said “If you lose Saturday, you have to win three in a row. When you win the first two, that’s huge.

“We’ve just got to get focused on the business at hand, and go over there and not get too tight,” he said. “We need to play steady and solid, and know if we can do those things, we’re good enough to play with them.”