GMC’s Dixie Raley is eager to begin her collegiate softball career at Georgia Southern. The pitcher will arrive in Statesboro with some pretty high accolades.
Led by Raley, the Bulldogs captured the 2014 GHSA Class A public school championship. Raley, who was dominant from the pitcher’s circle, going 13-2 with a 1.45 ERA and 137 strikeouts, is The Telegraph’s 2014 All-Middle Georgia Softball Player of the Year. Raley didn’t give up more than three runs in any of her pitching appearances, and seven times she allowed no runs.
“She was unbelievable,” GMC head coach Julie Brooker said. “What she does, she gave the team a lot of confidence. The team feels confident playing behind her.”
Raley carried over her prowess when she stepped up to the plate. She was among the team’s leading hitters with a .414 batting average, seven doubles and 24 RBI.
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That all-around effort helped lead the Bulldogs to an overwhelming margin of victory throughout the season as they outscored the opposition 274-70.
It all culminated in the championship round in the Columbus, where the Bulldogs rolled over the competition, routing Mount Zion 11-0, Telfair County 12-0, Johnson County 11-0 and Wilcox County 11-2 in the championship game.
“We’d been trying for the last three years, to win it your senior year; you can’t ask for a better way to go out,” Raley said.
The crowning victory gave GMC a long-awaited championship, something Raley says drove the Bulldogs as the season went on.
“We could have gone undefeated, but if we wouldn’t have won the championship, it’s like, ‘What’s the point of the season?’ ” Raley said.
Even a late-season setback was unable to derail GMC’s drive to a state title. A 4-3 loss to Tattnall Square sent the Bulldogs to a third-place finish in the region. GMC didn’t wallow in the disappointment, topping FPD 4-1 in a regular-season game and sweeping Hawkinsville 10-1 and 14-1 in the playoffs to advance to Columbus.
“When they got to Columbus, they were more than ready,” Brooker said. “They felt like once they were there, they knew what to do.”
After a trio of wins in Columbus, Raley helped ensure that her senior year ended with the Bulldogs raising a state championship trophy, even after falling behind early 2-0 in the championship game against Wilcox County.
“I just had to relax and get in the groove. We knew that everyone would step up at the plate,” Raley said. “We’ve been playing together for so long. We knew that someone would come up with a huge play when they were at the plate. Everyone was just so focused on finding a way to get it done.”