The Woodland High softball team went full force into the 2018 season with a doubleheader against one of the strongest softball programs in northwest Georgia, Northwest Whitfield.
The Lady 'Cats, who return a strong contingent of players off of a second-round playoff team a year ago, split with the Lady Bruins Saturday at Young Harris College, dropping the first game by a score of 4-0 and winning the second game 5-4.
Several of the returning starters for Woodland led the way at the plate in the doubleheader. Skylar Chappell had one of Woodland's two hits in Game 1, and she had what would become the game-winning RBI single in Game 2 in the sixth inning.
Bella Carnes also came up clutch in Game 2, as her two-run triple in the second inning broke through for Woodland's first runs of the day.
The Wildcats struggled to produce any offense in Game 1, though. A double by Jordan Duck represented one of just two times Woodland put a runner in scoring position in the game, and the Wildcats never were able to get a runner to third base.
They would pay when Northwest Whitfield produced a four-run fourth inning, which would be the difference in the game.
Besides the fourth inning, Madi Bentley pitched well in the circle. She allowed three earned runs on five hits and one walk in six innings with one strikeout.
Sarah Baynard, Woodland's ace in the circle each of the past two seasons, took the ball for Game 2 of the doubleheader and delivered a strong performance. She allowed four runs, but just two earned, on six hits and one walk in seven innings.
The second game went back and forth, but Chappell's one-out single in the sixth scored Caroline Higdon after Higdon doubled to lead off the frame. The run gave Woodland a 5-4 lead, and Baynard then came out in the seventh and shut the door to preserve the victory.
Northwest Whitfield took the first lead when an error scored a run in the opening stanza, but the Lady Wildcats came back with two runs in the bottom of the second on the clutch two-out triple by Carnes to give Woodland its first runs of the season.
Carnes would go on to go 3-for-4 in the game.
Northwest Whitfield came right back with a run in the top of the third, but Woodland extended its lead to 4-2 with two runs in the fourth. A hit by pitch and a Chappell single put two on for Hannah Miller, who delivered a bases-clearing triple.
Northwest Whitfield responded to a multi-run inning by Woodland again with two runs in the top of the fifth, but Chappell's big run-scoring single in the sixth allowed Woodland to prevail.
Chappell went 2-for-2 in the game and had three hits for the day, adding a walk. Miller also had two hits in the second game.
Next, Woodland will open region play Monday at home against East Paulding.