“Hit the ball, Red. Hit the ball.”
“Level swing. Level swing.”
Dugout chatter is the same from little leagues to major leagues, and it also livens up college women’s softball. While the game is often played on recreation department fields rather than on campus, it is quickly gaining popularity across Georgia.
More than 200 fans filled a Milledgeville recreation field and cheered Tuesday’s game between the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Fillies and the Georgia College Lady Colonials. The pairing was unusual because ABAC is a junior college while Georgia College is a four-year school.
“Aw, come on Red, hit that ball. We got 30 hits yesterday.”
Red is the Fillies’ catcher.
Through seven regulation innings the score is tied, 3-3. Red singles with one out in the eighth.
“O.K. Cindy, that’s the winning run. Don’t leave her.”
Jones County native Amanda Maddox leads the Fillies. She plays third base and hits in the clean-up position. She graduated from Jones County High School in 1987, played on the Lady Hounds teams, and also played on the champion Elite Coatings 18-and-under girl’s teams.
“I would never have a coaching problem if all my players showed the dedication Amanda does,” says Fillies coach Ellen Vickers. She calls Amanda a team leader and points to a batting average that’s been above .400 all season.
“That’s it, Cindy. Good eye, good eye.”
The count reaches 3-0 on the DH.
Amanda is in her final quarter at ABAC. “I’m looking at senior colleges where I can play ball and get a good education,” she says. She expects sports to always be important in her life. “I want a career in sports medicine.”
The Fillies’ bench erupts as Cindy walks. The next batter, the shortstop, also walks on five pitches. The center fielder follows with a fly ball out to the Lady Colonials short-fielder.
Amanda Maddox comes to the plate with two out and the bases loaded. The go-ahead runner claps at third.
“Come on Amanda. You can do it.”
In the game, Amanda was three-for-three. Her third-inning double drove in the Fillie’s second and third runs. Her relay throw to home in the bottom of the seventh stopped a Lady Colonials’ rally that would have won the game.
Amanda was set up for legend, but real life occurred instead. She didn’t hit a homer – nor did she strike out. She walked on five pitches and sent the go-ahead runner trotting in from third. It was enough. The Fillies won 4-3.
Amanda points with pride to ABAC’s successful program including the Fillies 24-16 record this season. ABAC has had women’s softball only two years, and the team has played in the National Junior College tournament both seasons. This year, the tournament will be played in Hanceville, Alabama from May 5 through May 7.
(Originally written for The Jones County News)