French Settlement at Albany softball Heather Degenhardt

Albany High's centerfielder Heather Degenhardt makes contact with a pitch.

ALBANY -- Albany didn’t waste any time advancing to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.

Drawing No. 22 Eunice in the first round, No. 11 Albany broke the 10-run barrier for the third straight game by racking up 14 hits — including two home runs — on the way to a dominant 12-0 win over the Lady Bobcats in five innings.

The Lady Hornets (22-9) scored four runs in the first inning, five in the second and three more over the third and fourth innings to send Eunice (11-16) home early. The win sets up a second-round matchup at Erath (18-9), which advanced with a 21-0 win over Carroll.

As a team, Albany went 14-for-26 against the Lady Bobcats, with five of those hits going for extra bases. The first five batters in the lineup went a combined 12-for-17, including a 4-for-4 night from leadoff hitter Annalea Giamalva. Four Lady Hornets drove in at least two runs, led by Heather Degenhardt’s 3-RBI night.

Coach David Knight was pleased with the effort from his team, which ended the regular season by winning six of its last seven games — including five by at least 10 runs. Knight said he’s seen a renewed focus from his team following a 6-3 loss to Franklinton on April 1.

In the four games since the loss, the Lady Hornets have outscored their opponents 38-0.

“We took one on the chin at Franklinton a few days ago, and I think it woke them up,” Knight said. “We played them right until the end, and we had a kid that never makes a mistake make a bad mistake. But the team rallied around her and came back the next day won.

“Today was one of our better games,” he continued. “We looked better today than we had in awhile. I told them they’re playing about as good as we’ve been all season.”

After Giamalva opened the game with a double, outfielder Degenhardt blasted a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall to give Albany a 2-0 lead.

Pitcher Brittney Turner sent another ball over the fence on the next at-bat before Abbie Spring scored a runner on a sacrifice fly three batters later to give the home team a four-run lead after the first inning.

“Man, it brought them alive,” Knight said of the back-to-back home runs.

The Lady Hornets added five more runs in the bottom of the second, with two coming off a single to center field from infielder Rayanne Ridgell. Madison Knight, Breanna Smith and Turner also drove in runs as Albany built a 9-0 lead heading into the third.

Degenhardt drove in the Lady Hornets’ 10th run of the game on a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Maddie Oubre from third base in the third inning. Oubre and Smith knocked in runners in the bottom of the fourth for Albany’s final runs.

While her team did damage at the plate, Turner wreaked havoc on the Lady Bobcats in the circle. The junior pitcher allowed two hits — both singles — in four innings while striking out eight batters and not allowing a runner past second base.

Giamaiva relieved Turner in the fifth inning, striking out two batters and forcing a fllyout to secure the Lady Hornets’ spot in the second round, where their season has ended the past two years.

“(Turner) had a good day today,” Knight said. “She’s been kind of up and down for most of the season, but these last few weeks she’s really pulled it together. We’ve had to rely on (Giamalva) throughout the year, and she’s been lights out. They both looked strong today.”

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