The Randolph Southern softball team celebrates after their Final Four win over the weekend in the GISA Class A State Tournament, advancing the Lady Patriots to their first state title series in school history. They'll play Thomas Jefferson on Thursday in Dublin. (Tracey Lumpkin/Special to The Herald)
DUBLIN -- They're dancing in Shellman, wild, crazy, in-your-face, pinch-me-I-can't-believe it, top-of-the world dancing.
And no one wants to stop.
Let the music play.
The truth is, theses kids don't even need music, they have each other. That's the secret at Randolph Southern, where the softball team started dancing after big wins earlier this season and just never stopped.
They were dancing like crazy Saturday at the Southern Park Complex in Dublin, where they won two games to advance to the GISA Class A State Championship for the first time in school history.
"I don't know if they knew what to do. It's all new territory for them,'' said Randolph Southern coach Rand Ragan, whose team will play Thomas Jefferson on Thursday for the title. "We had never been to the Final Four before, and we won our first region title last year. It's all new.''
He knows his kids can dance, and he knows they can sure play softball, too.
It's been a dream season.
"It's been amazing,'' he said." In midseason, I wouldn't have given you a nickel for our chances.''
The Lady Patriots lost returning catcher before the season Parker Rigsby, and Ragan admits the loss was a huge blow to the team.
He never imagined his kids would regroup and make this kind of run. But something happened once they reached the state tournament.
"It's phenomenal,'' Ragan said. "We were in the second round and they just morphed into a different team. The team chemistry showed up, chemistry and balance. It has ben amazing.''
Ragan said his kids all started chipping in and it was a one-for-all and all-for-one mentality, and the big hits on the field kept coming and coming.
And the Lady Patriots (18-4) also had an ace up their sleeve in sophomore Madison Ragan, the coach's daughter.
She was never better than on Saturday when she pitched two complete games, and gave up only two hits all day.
She gave up a bunt single and no earned runs in a 2-1 win against defending state champ Briarwood, striking out five and walking one to help the Lady Pats advance.
Then she threw a no-hitter into the sixth and final inning before giving up her only a hit -- a single -- in an 8-0 six-inning win against Thomas Jefferson. She struck out 12 and sent Randolph Southern to its first state final by striking out the side in the sixth.
The GISA rules allow Thomas Jefferson to advance to the state final because of a double-elimination rule, and Randolph Southern will have to beat TJ again in a three-game series on Thursday back in Dublin.
But after winning 8-0, the Shellman kids will have a lot of confidence.
"We just beat them, so I would say it looks like a good matchup,'' Rand said.
They squeaked by Briarwood, but never trailed as the Lady Patriots scored a run in the second when Madison hit an RBI single up the middle to bring home Braylie Blanton, who moved to second on Alana McCook's single.
They struck again in the third with three singles from Gabi Jackson, Beth Clark and Elizabeth Lumpkin, who had the RBI single. Then Madison and the defense did the rest.
There wasn't much drama against Thomas Jefferson in the nightcap.
Randolph Southern scored early and often. Blanton went 3-for-3 and scored three times and Clark went 3-for-3. Brittany Holbrook was about as clutch as they come, driving in three runs with three sacrifice flies. Lumpkin went 2-for-3, and Ragan went 2-for-2 and belted a three-run triple.