David Johnson is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune.

Lost amidst the travails of its football program and the ravaging affects of COVID-19 is a steadily developing good-news story at George Walton Academy.

Somehow the girls softball team has managed to avoid losing any games to the dreaded virus despite having had a few players go down, which is good news enough. In the process, the Lady Bulldogs are rolling toward the conclusion of what could be a historic season. 

Momentum has been building for the past three seasons. They went from just 10 wins in 2016 to winning 22 the past two seasons. Last Friday, they ended the regular season with a record of 18-1

Projected over a full season, GWA would have compiled nearly 30 wins at this point. But as it has with every other sport, COVID-19 has truncated the regular schedule. 

The number of wins is impressive enough. But dig a little deeper and you find that the Lady Bulldogs haven’t just been winning, but dominating. Eleven of their wins were by shutout, including eight straight over one stretch. Offensively, they averaged 6.5 runs a game. 

Since joining the GHSA in 2010, the Lady Bulldogs haven’t won a state title.

The closest they came was last year, when they finished third overall. This could be the year they break through.

Given that pitching often dominates in the post season, the Bulldogs are in great shape. They send to the mound arguably the best pitcher in the state in junior Taylor Tinsley.

She’s won nine of 10 starts, allowed five runs, just three earned, with 158 strikeouts and eight walks. Did I mention she’s just a junior?

Backing up Tinsley is junior Caroline Conner. She’s won seven of eight starts with 68 Ks and nine walks. Again, note that she’s an 11th grader. The two have pitched 112 of the team’s 117 innings and figure to be on the mound for every inning the rest of the way.

In addition to her pitching prowess, Conner has some pop at the plate with a team-leading four homers and 18 RBI. The team’s leading hitter is Riley Wilson, who finished the regular season with a .545 average, 15 RBI, and a team-best 23 runs scored. Next in line is Alana Griffith who’s hitting .455.

Griffith is a junior, Wilson a sophomore. Noticing a trend here?

The Bulldogs stand to be good for a while. But the only future they are looking toward is the next few weeks. The area tournament starts this week followed by state. 

Given the composition of the lineup, expect the Lady Bulldogs to be the last Class A private school team standing in Columbus.

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