Darton’s Amanda Jaskolski, right, tries to turn a double play on Waycross’ Jessica Ball during Game 1 of Friday’s doubleheader in Albany. The two teams split.
ALBANY — All of a sudden the Lady Cavs are looking mortal.
No. 12 Darton had rattled off a school-record and NJCAA-best 30 straight wins before taking off for spring break at the end of March, but with Friday’s split with region foe Waycross, the Lady Cavs have lost two of their last four games and are trying to regain their swagger.
It’s a feeling the nationally-ranked Lady Cavs aren’t used to.
“Hurt,” Darton pitcher Katy Jordan said when asked how she felt after Friday’s 5-3 loss in the nightcap that was preceded by a 9-1 win in the opener. “I don’t think we should have lost that game, but it is what it is and we will come back stronger.”
Jordan pitched Darton to a five-inning win in the opener, but Waycross rallied to win second game.
Despite the loss, the Lady Cavs (38-3, 10-2) remain in first place in the Region XVII standings, but second-place Waycross (23-13, 10-4) stayed close behind.
If the region standings remain unchanged — which is likely with just one week left in the regular season — then Darton and Waycross will be on opposite ends of the region tournament bracket, setting up a possible championship series between the two schools.
“I would love nothing more than to see the two of us play on Sunday (April 29 in the title game)” Waycross coach Bryan Hartley said. “That would be great.”
Darton coach David Dews said the 30-game winning streak is a thing of the past and the focus is purely on gaining momentum heading into the region tournament, which begins April 27 in Locust Grove.
“We just need to play a little better and get ready for what’s ahead of us and take care of what we can take care of,” Dews said. “Anybody can beat you if you aren’t ready to play, and we need to be on the top of our game day in and day out.”
The Lady Cavs looked every bit on top of their game in the opener. They jumped on Waycross freshman pitcher Jasmine Garcia in the bottom of the first inning and knocked her out of the game before the inning was over. Chantelle Curinton put up the first run of the game with an RBI single, and then Jessica Vason sent a pitch deep over the left-field fence for a three-run homer. Two batters later, Kelsea Ogletree hit a home run to the same spot to give the Lady Cavs a 5-0 lead.
“(Garcia) was nervous,” Hartley said. “Her stuff wasn’t moving, and they took advantage of it and put it on us. And they didn’t stop.”
The Darton hitters took two innings off before pouring on more runs in the fourth inning. Vason drove in two runs with a single to right field, and Erica Vasquez singled in Vason to give Darton a 9-1 lead.
“Last time we played against them I didn’t play very well, so I figured I would come out and have a good game,” said Vason, who has a .464 batting average and a team-high 48 RBI. “We just need to get back in the groove of things and pick it up from here.”
Jordan, who is now 20-2 with a .737 ERA, allowed just two hits in the game, and they were both to sophomore Summer Rose, who hit a solo home run in the second inning and a single in the fifth inning.
Darton freshman pitcher Jenny Willis started the second game and suffered her first loss of the season after opening up her college career with 17 straight wins. Willis allowed four runs and six hits in four innings before being relieved by Jordan.
The Lady Cavs had eight hits in the nightcap and had a base runner in every inning but two, but they weren’t able to get a timely hit from their stacked lineup. Ogletree, Holly Smith and Chelsea Showers each had RBI singles.
“We didn’t let (up in the second game),” Dews said. “Their kids just made a few more plays than we did. They are a good team, and most of the time with good teams you split. We just have to worry about the next game now. We still have a lead in the conference, and we are going to try to hold it the best we can.”
Darton, which is in the middle of 10 straight home games to end the season, will play again Tuesday in a doubleheader against South Georgia College.