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Small-ball has Gladiators atop subregion
by Chase Wallace
September 19, 2012 12:05 AM | 2847 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo -- Special Photo
Johns Creek junior Megan Fithian lays down a sacrifice bunt in a 4-3 win over Northview High School earlier this month.
Special Photo -- Special Photo Johns Creek junior Megan Fithian lays down a sacrifice bunt in a 4-3 win over Northview High School earlier this month.
Without an overbearing lineup filled with heavy-hitters that can slug their way to victory, Johns Creek softball has had to rely on strong pitching and reliable defense to stay in ball games.

Mix in the ability to bunt, advance runners, and manufacture runs on offense, and you have the Lady Gladiators’ recipe for success in 2012 — or as head coach Billy Nicholson calls it, “good old-fashioned small-ball.”

“We’ve got a really scrappy team this year and these girls are really fun to watch play,” said Nicholson, who helped start the program when the school opened in 2009. “The success we’ve had is from good fundamentals, basically just playing the game the right way.”

Johns Creek (12-8 overall this season, 4-3 in 6AAAAAA play) is coming off a 20-win season in 2011 that saw them make their first state playoff trip in school history.

Led by Kara Langill, who sports an 8-5 record and a miniscule 1.85 ERA, Johns Creek is back in the playoff hunt this season. Nicholson added that the defense behind Langill, which includes three talented freshmen, hasn’t hurt either.

“When you have a good pitcher like Kara that throws strikes, you have to be good on defense and do the little things right, like field the bunt,” he said.

“We’re really good in that area with Megan Martin at third and Victoria Swanson at first.”

Martin, a freshman, is joined in the field by fellow freshman Brittany Cannon (left field) and Kelley Cutcliff (right field). In between the two ninth-graders is senior Courtney Jacobs, who brings leadership to the outfield and a pretty good bat at the plate to boot.

“Courtney has been outstanding in the leadoff spot,” said Nicholson of Jacobs, currently hitting .467 with a team high 24 runs scored. “We don’t have any big boppers, so we try to do the small things right and its worked so far.”

Jenna Restivo adds her own offensive punch to the lineup with a .306 average and team high 15 RBI’s with Cutcliff (.300) and Martin (.294) also having strong seasons.

“We’re playing the small-ball game well, leading the sub-region right now and the girls feeling like they can beat anyone in this region.”

Johns Creek has two region games remaining, at Centennial tomorrow and a home tilt against Chattahoochee on Tuesday.

The region tournament — played at Fowler Park in Cumming — will take place Sept. 29 through Oct. 4.

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