The look on Kira Morgan’s face said it all.
Morgan just finished pitching 12 innings in Chapel Hill’s sweep of LaFayette in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs on Wednesday, and she was drained.
After a 9-1 blowout win in the opening game, Morgan and her teammates survived a scare in nightcap for a 9-6 win to advance.
“I’m just glad we didn’t have to come back and play a third game,” said the junior pitcher. “We need some rest and a mental break.”
Because the Panthers wrapped up the series in a day, they will be off until Oct. 18 when they face Stephens County in the second round for a trip to the Elite Eight Tournament in Columbus.
Stephens County swept Chestatee 5-0, 3-2 on the road in Gainesville. Since Stephens County is lower seed from Region 8-AAAA, it will have to travel to Douglasville for next week’s game.
Chapel Hill will enter the game on a 14-game winning streak while Indians are 18-7 after having won four of their last six games.
Players agreed that closing out the series early is a relief.
“It is really big in the fact that you get some rest,” Chapel Hill sophomore third baseman Taylor Middlebrook. “We got the first one out of the way.”
And Middlebrook, a Mississippi State commit, played a huge role. She hit two home runs, including a grand slam in the first game, for the easy win. Morgan pitched both games for the Panthers, who are now 20-9 on the season.
“Taylor had a huge game offensively,” Chapel Hill coach Mickey Harper said. “In the second game we had some key hits in some big situations. We did enough good things early to win the game. I thought our defense was solid throughout the two games. It is definitely hard playing a team you know little about in a short span.”
Harper credited junior catcher Paige Vincent with helping him and guiding Morgan throughout the games.
“Paige was letting me know what they were doing in the batter’s box and how to adjust,” he said. “She did a good job with Kira. Obviously, Kira had to make the pitches, but Paige did a good job. I thought Kira made them earn everything they got. Offensively, we had nine hitters that contributed up and down the lineup.”
Senior Kenedy Hagan had a home run, her fourth of the season.
“It was just a matter of me getting an opportunity to play,” Hagan said. “I will do what ever it takes for us to go all the way. We just have to take it step by step and not get in a rush.”