Thirteen days is a long time between games.
No surprise then, that the Jay softball team were ready to get back on the diamond.
“It felt amazing,” said Destiny Herring, the team’s starting pitcher. “I was just ready. It was great to come back and play.”
The rest of the team was ready as well, routing visiting Region 2-1A semifinal opponent Franklin County 11-1 in six innings on Wednesday.
The Royals turned in 14 hits in the contest, kick started by Herring’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first.
With one out and a runner at second, Herring sent a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall that brought the crowd to its feet.
Herring finished the day 2-for-3 on offense with two runs and two RBI while also picking up the win in the circle by tossing five innings and only allowing one run.
“I’ve never hit a homerun on a changeup so I was like ‘Whoa,’ ” laughed Herring. “I kind of had to look a little bit and then finally, when it went over, I was like ‘OK, I can trot now.’ “
The effort certainly pleased her coach.
“On a 3-2 changeup too,” Brian Watson said. “She stayed back and hit it and that kind of set the tone for us. We just had good at bats from there on out.”
“I thought we hit the ball well,” he added. “I was a little concerned with the off-speed stuff, that’s a little different from what we’ve been seeing, but we had a week to prepare for it.
“I thought we were a little nervous, but the homerun in the first inning by Destiny Herring kind of made us realize ‘OK, we’re going to be able to hit this.’
The long break between the district title game and Wednesday’s region semifinal, a product of the smaller 1A classification, can sometimes be problematic for teams.
Other than a handful of errors (four as a team) the Royals were on point following the long layoff.
Jay will have to stay sharp as it hosts District 2-1A runner up Chipley at 7 p.m. Friday.
“Franklin County’s a really young team,” Watson said. “They only have two seniors, it’s their first time in the playoffs in I don’t know how many years … Then you have Chipley who’s got five seniors and a pitcher who’s very comfortable in the circle.
“It’s a completely different team. You’ve got to beat Chipley because they’re not going to beat themselves. They’re going to swing it and they got power.”
The Royals split the regular-season series against the Tigers 1-1 before edging their rivals 7-6 in the District 2-1A championship.
Region 1A Semifinal
Wednesday at Jay
Jay 11, Franklin County 1
FCHS…000 010 x—1 4 4
Jay…230 312 x—11 14 3
WP—Destiny Herring 5 IP, R, 0 ER, 4 K, BB. LP—Megan Collins 4.1 IP, 8 R, 0 K, 4 BB.
Jay hitters—Emily Dobson 4-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Destiny Herring 2-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR; Dana Blackmon 2-4, R, RBI; Riana Wolfe 2-4, 2 RBI, 2 R; Avarie Jackson 2-4, 2 R; Michaela Stewart 1-4, 2 RBI.
Want to go?
• WHO: Chipley Tigers at Jay Royals.
• WHAT: Region 2-1A championship.
• WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday.
• SKINNY: Winner will advance to the Class 1A state tournament in Vero Beach.