Few softball teams have been more consistent on the Grand Strand — or the state, that matter — in recent years than Aynor.
While the postseason is still well off in the distance, the Blue Jackets seemed to be in top form.
Pounding out 19 hits, Aynor made short work Tuesday night of Carolina Forest, needing only four innings to take care of the Panthers, 16-1.
“We’ve been talking about being in a good mental state,” said Aynor softball coach Tony Mills. “We have a lot of kids that play ball, and can physically play. But there is so much that is mental, so with that we wanted to be tuned in on every play. On defense talking on ever at-bat. Those first couple of innings are so important, and I think we did a good job with that tonight.”
From the outset, the Blue Jackets flexed their muscle, scoring nine runs in the first two innings. They wouldn’t slack much off the pace in the following two innings, taking advantage of Carolina Forest miscues — particularly errors and pitches high in the zone.
“We felt the kids were loud, cheering each other on,” Mills said. “We played in a couple preseason tournaments, played in some tough scrimmages, we’re trying to do all we can to prepare for the most important stretch of the season. Carolina Forest is a good team, one bigger than us and well-coached. It feels good to come out and play a good game against a solid opponent.”
Brooke Elliott and Taylor Charlton each tallied four hits for Aynor in a winning effort. Shortstop Layna Johnson was 2-for-3 on the evening, with a home run and two runs batted in.
As for Carolina Forest, head coach Chad Schildt said he is looking for more consistency from his ball club, particularly after several “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” performances to start the season.
“We had two games where I think we couldn’t have played much better in Georgetown,” he said. “Then we’ve had three games much like this one here tonight. We have to find a way to get a little bit more consistency. Some of that will come with experience.
“No one likes taking it on the chin like we did (Tuesday). But we’ll learn from this, and try to get better because of it.”
Leah Boyle and Skylar James had the lone hits on the night for the Panthers.
WP: Brooke Elliott. LP: Emma Liles. Top hitters: AYN – Brooke Elliott 4-for-4, 2 2B, 4 R, RBI; Taylor Charlton 4-for-4, 2B, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI. CF – Leah Boyle 1-for-2; Skylar James 1-for-2.