softball

Aynor softball is getting to the point where it is in its opponents’ heads before anyone steps foot onto the field.

A whole bunch of offense will do that.

The Blue Jackets advanced to the Class 3A District VI championship game with a 10-0 win over Wacccmaaw at home Saturday afternoon.

“Today, everybody gets on the internet, everybody’s surfing and searching to see how teams did in the regular season,” Aynor coach Tony Mills said. “We were very fortunate to score a lot of runs in the regular season.”

In the playoffs, too.

Combined with an opening-round win over Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Mills’ team has now scored 29 runs in two postseason game. What’s more, it came in fewer than nine offensive innings. The Blue Jackets didn’t need to bat in the bottom of the fifth in the playoff opener and dropped five runs Saturday in the fifth to close it out early.

Against the Warriors, everyone did a little bit of something, to the tune of each spot in the lineup producing a run. Kennedy Ellis hit a home run and had two RBI. Layna Johnson was 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Jules Johnson was 2-for-3 with a run. Claire Lewis was 3-for-3 with a double and a run.

The last Blue Jacket to reach base safely, leadoff hitter Kayden Ray, did so on the final at-bat of the game, when she drove in Lewis to end the affair against their old region rival.

“If we help them, we help them to where they are right now, which is a 10-0 game,” Waccamaw coach James Graves said. “We had opportunities early and didn’t take advantage of them. … If we played well and let the chips fall where they may, we could have had a chance. If not, we knew what could happen.”

Graves admitted that his players knew about the 19-0 Aynor effort on Thursday, and that it likely affected his squad. It’s becoming a way for the Blue Jackets to lean on their opponents.

“We’ve played them in the past. They know that we’re a pretty good team,” Layna Johnson said before mentioning the Ridgeland-Hardeeville score. “That, too. Putting up 19 runs, that’s a lot. That doesn’t happen a lot.”

Maybe not, but all this offense is not out of the ordinary.

Aynor (21-3) — which will be going after its sixth consecutive district championship at home on Wednesday — has reached double-digits in 16 of its games this year. Four of those came against Class 5A playoff teams West Florence and Carolina Forest. While opponents may be thinking about some of those, Aynor is still drawing fuel from one of those three losses. 

On Monday, Aynor dropped a 3-2 game to Johnsonville. The result meant nothing, as it was a non-region game set as a tune-up for the playoffs.

“That hurt. We were disappointed,” Mills said. “Looking back, maybe it was a good thing. We needed to refocus. These kids were down after the Johnsonville game. They were frustrated. Sometime, it takes a loss to get your attention, let you know you’re not as good as you think you are.”

Good luck convincing the first two playoff opponents of that right now.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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