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Freshman pitcher shines for LaGrange

By Kevin Eckleberry

kevin.eckleberry@lagrangenews.com

LAGRANGE – It was a smashing debut.

The LaGrange Lady Grangers opened a new season against Callaway on Saturday morning in the Hope for a Day event, and it was freshman Camden Smith taking the hill for the home team.

Smith was superb, limiting Callaway to one hit as LaGrange got its season started with a 7-0 victory.

Callaway’s only hit came when Oeisha Jenkins reached on a two-out double in the seventh inning, and Smith got a groundout to finish off the shutout.

“She came in on it today,” LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath said of Smith. “They’ve been working hard at practice. We’ve been doing a lot of live pitching. For her to come in as a freshman and have confidence to throw like that, shows a lot about her character, and how she’s going to be on the mound.”

LaGrange ended the day by losing a 9-8 heart-breaker to Troup.

The Lady Grangers led until the seventh inning, but the Lady Tigers pushed across three runs to secure the thrilling win.

In the first game, Smith rolled through the Callaway lineup, and until the double in the seventh inning, the only base runner she’d allowed came on an error in the first inning.

The Lady Grangers scored the only run they’d need in the second inning, and they added two more runs in the third inning before capping the scoring with two runs in the fifth.

Destiny Fitzpatrick had two of LaGrange’s hits, and she scored two runs.

Malone Aldridge, Hannah Karcher and Jacee Marable each had a hit and a run scored.

In the Troup game, LaGrange was down 3-0 after the first inning, but it answered with three runs in the top of the second to tie it.

The Lady Grangers pushed five more runs across in the third inning, and they were up 8-3 at that point.

LaGrange was held scoreless over the final three innings, though, and Troup rallied for the 9-8 win.

Heath said the team made some mistakes late in the game that proved costly.

“We’re all really young,” said Heath, who has six freshmen on the varsity roster. “In situations like that, there are things we can work on in practice to offset some of that. We can work in practice to improve some of the little stuff.”

Smith had two of LaGrange’s seven hits with an RBI, and Abby Vanhoose had a hit and three RBIs.

Fitzpatrick had two RBIs, and Aldridge and Jacee Marable each drove in one run.

In the three-run second inning, Smith, Kirsten Williams and Madison Dennis had consecutive hits, and Aldridge walked with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Next up was Vanhoose, and she fouled off a handful of two-strike pitches before walking to plate another run, and Fitzpatrick capped the three-run rally with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

In the four-run third inning, Shaq Sutton started the rally with a base hit, and she scored on a Marable bunt.

Smith’s RBI single extended the lead, Vanhoose had a two-run hit later in the inning, and Fitzpatrick’s sacrifice fly put LaGrange up 8-3.

LaGrange was held scoreless the rest of the way, and Troup was able to get back in it before winning it in the sevent inning on a walk-off single by Skye Loftin.

“Offensively, we had some good approaches, about the first 11 innings,” Heath said. “And then we started to sit back a little bit and let them come back.”

Karcher was LaGrange’s starting pitcher and she worked the first four innings, and Smith threw the final 2 2/3 innings.

LaGrange hosts Hardaway today at 5:30p.m. before beginnings its Region 5-AAAA schedule on Thursday at Central-Carroll.

OF NOTE: For more photos, check out Facebook.com/LDNSports