SILVER BLUFF 9 BARNWELL 1
By ERIC RUSSELL
BARNWELL — Silver Bluff (14-10) found itself in unfamiliar territory in the Class AA playoffs Friday night. The Lady Dogs fell behind early in their matchup with Barnwell. However, it did not take long for Silver Bluff’s bats to get going and Karly Kinard to start displaying the dominance she has for most of the postseason in Silver Bluff’s 9-1 victory.
Barnwell was able to get to Kinard early on. Four of the six hits she surrendered came in the first two innings, and the Warhorses took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
From that point on, it was all Silver Bluff.
“We put pressure on them every inning after that,” Silver Bluff head coach Eric Hofstetter said. “We let the momentum take us, and that’s key against a team we were facing for the fourth time.”
Iyceiss Drayton started off the Lady Dogs’ offensive attack with the team’s first hit of the game in the third inning. Jasmine Squirewell drove her in with an RBI single, and two batters later, Laini Frye delivered a two-RBI single to push the lead to 3-1.
Silver Bluff went on to push a single run across in both the fourth and fifth innings to extend the lead.
Barnwell had one more opportunity before the game got out of hand. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Barnwell’s Victoria Schatzer hit a single to centerfield. Unfortunately for Barnwell, the baserunner who was on second ran through head coach Carol Massengale’s stop sign and got caught between third and home. Instead of runners on second and third with one out, the Warhorses ended up getting nothing out of the inning.
Silver Bluff added three more runs in the sixth and a run in the seventh.
Frye and Drayton both finished 2-for-4. Frye also had two RBIs in the game. Tamia Ruffin also finished with multiple hits on the game with her 2-for-3 effort.
Even though Silver Bluff put up nine runs in the game, Hofstetter was most pleased with the effort of Kinard and the defensive play of his team.
Kinard went a complete game, allowing six hits and striking out four. The one run by Barnwell was unearned.
“The pitching and the defense is what we’ve been working on all year and it really showed in this game,” he said.
Another key in the victory for Hofstetter’s team was the small ball approach he took at times. Ruffin reached base twice on infield singles and a the team’s final run came on a fielders choice play in which he sent the runner.
“It puts the pressure on them to make the plays defensively,” Hofstetter said of the gameplan. “If they don’t make the play, then we have some girls who can really hit the ball and make things happen. We have a good mixture going.”
Silver Bluff will now return home to take on Waccamaw in the next round. The Warriors defeated Dillon 13-3 Friday night to advance in the winners’ bracket for a date with the Lady Dogs.
Hofstetter said he doesn’t know much about the team but expects it to be a good matchup since Waccamaw comes out of a tough region.
One thing Hofstetter does expect is for his team to follow the same formula as they have been.
“Pitching and defense, it’s worked so far so we have to keep it up,” Hofstetter said.
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Iyceiss Drayton makes contact with a pitch in Silver Bluffs playoff win over Barnwell. Drayton was one of three Silver Bluff players with multiple hits.×
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Silver Bluff's Jasmine Squirewell, left, tags out Barnwell's Cierra Bell (7) on a steal attempt in Silver Bluff's Class AA playoff win.×
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Karly Kinard delivers a pitch in Silver Bluffs win over Barnwell in the Class AA lower state playoffs. Kinard remained unbeaten in the playoffs picking up her fourth win.×
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Silver Bluff head coach Eric Hofstetter talks to his team during a break in the action in Silver Bluff's 9-1 playoff victory over Barnwell Friday night.×