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Westminster softball has eyes beyond playoffs
by David Rutz
September 11, 2012 09:37 AM | 1766 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>Meryl McCurry takes her turn at the batting cages at Westminster softball practice.
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Westminster softball knows one thing already for certain.

It will compete in the state playoffs this fall for the first time since 2007.

With only four schools with softball teams in Region 6-AA, the others being Lovett, Greater Atlanta Christian and top-ranked Wesleyan, the Wildcats are assured of a spot in the field of 32.

They have that peace of mind, but they can help themselves even more with a top-two finish in the region tournament, thus ensuring at least one home playoff series.

“We know in the back of our minds that we’re going to be in that first round of the state playoffs,” Westminster coach Brent McGuire said. “The motivation is to be one of the host teams, so that’s what we’re striving for.”

The final eight teams advance to Columbus to battle for the state championship.

“We want to do our best and try to get to Columbus and prolong our season as much as possible,” senior pitcher Michelle Bonnot said. “We know we’re good enough to do that, and we want to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Westminster lost last season’s prodigious offense of shortstop Nicole Dayhoff (.556, three home runs, 25 RBIs, 28 runs) to graduation and has looked to several others in the lineup to replace her considerable production.

Catcher Maggie Wellborn (team-high .559, 12 runs, 10 RBIs through 10 games), first baseman Meryl McCurry, third baseman Emily Bassett and designated player Alex Ansley are carrying that load early on for Westminster, which won seven of its first 10 games before dropping its opening region game to Wesleyan Thursday, 6-5.

Bonnot, the workhorse starting pitcher for Westminster since her sophomore year, has 44 career wins and will almost surely break the program record, set at 46 by Margaux Black from 2003 to 2005.

After dropping two of their first three games, the Wildcats won five in a row from Aug. 14 through 23, four of them by shutout over North Atlanta, Holy Innocents’, Walker and St. Pius X. Bonnot and the defense behind her have held opponents to two runs or less in all but one of their victories.

“We always know when she goes to the post that she’s going to give us a great effort,” McGuire said. “She’s averaging about nine strikeouts a ballgame. She shortens the ballgame for us.”

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