The Gilbert softball team got off to a less than auspicious start in 2009, losing four games in the first week of the regular season.
“It seemed as though the girls had some doubts about their ability to win,” said veteran Indians coach Rueben Eargle.
That was then. Now, the Indians (5-5 overall) find themselves in the driver’s seat in Region 3-2A with a 5-0 record and a two-game lead over Batesburg-Leesville, Mid-Carolina and Saluda at the close of the first half of the conference campaign.
The turnaround came in a 2-0 win over Batesburg-Leesville in Gilbert’s debut in a new, tougher region. It was the start of a five-game winning streak. The Tribe’s roll was stopped on Wednesday night in a 1-0 loss to neighboring 4A Lexington.
“Ever since we beat Batesburg-Leesville, we’ve played exceptionally well," said Eargle.
Gilbert’s region surge is the result of solid pitching and some improved hitting. Senior veteran Leigha Hite has been outstanding in the circle, going 5-0 with a 0.60 ERA during the run. She has allowed only 18 hits in 35 innings of region work, walked only four and struck out 46.
Senior Jasmine Strother is batting .400 in region games (5-for-16) with six runs and four RBIs. Strother, who did not play in a 10-0 romp over Strom Thurmond, had two hits and three RBIs in a 12-1 win vs. Newberry. Sophomore shortstop Victoria Burkett is hitting .388 in region games (7-for-18) with nine runs and four RBIs. Her best games was a 2-for-3 performance with a triple, three runs scored and two RBIs in an 8-5 win over Mid-Carolina. Junior second baseman Courtney Frye is batting .278 with five RBIs in region games, the highlight being a decisive two-run hit vs. B-L.
For the season, Gilbert is hitting just .229 as a team.
The Indians second-half opener against Batesburg-Leesville on Thursday was rained out. Gilbert will now wait 12 days before returning to action on April 13 when it hosts B-L at the start of a telling four-game week in the region.