Rivalry win for LaGrange
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – They found a way.
The LaGrange Lady Grangers faced their share of adversity during Tuesday’s cross-town showdown with the Troup Lady Tigers, but when the final pitch had been thrown, they were the team celebrating a big win.
Troup got the tying run to third base with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but LaGrange wriggled out of the inning with no more runs scoring to secure the 6-5 victory.
The game was tied at 4-4 when LaGrange scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 6-4 lead.
That’s the way it remained until the bottom of the seventh when Troup rallied.
Maddie Weathers reached on an infield single to drive in a run, and Troup had runners on first and third with no outs trailing by a run.
The runner at third was picked off for the critical first out, and LaGrange pitcher Camden Smith got a fielder’s choice and a groundout to end it.
LaGrange (8-3 overall) improved to 2-0 in Region 5-AAAA, while Troup (5-4) fell to 2-1 in the region.
LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath was proud of the way her team, which includes a bunch of freshmen who are in the starting lineup, hung in there and pulled off the road win.
“We have a lot of young kids, and we had a lot of nerves in the beginning,” Heath said. “In the past, our teams have not been able to dig deep like that and persevere. This team did.”
On an inexperienced team, Heath said “we’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes we’re going to make mistakes, and it’s what we do after. How we react once it happens, that really shows what we’re about.”
One of the team’s seniors, outfielder Shaq Sutton, said the energy and enthusiasm shown by the younger players makes coming to the field a joy.
“I love being around them,” Sutton said. “It’s easy to get them back up. They never stay down.”
While LaGrange remained perfect in the region, Troup is dealing with its first region setback.
Troup, which beat Chapel Hill and Sandy Creek to open region play, will be at home on Thursday for a major test against Cedartown.
“This makes Thursday that much bigger,” Troup head coach Mason Brackett said.
LaGrange, which now has region wins over Cedartown and Troup, will be at home against Sandy Creek on Thursday.
Smith earned the hard-earned victory on the mound.
Smith gave up eight hits with six strikeouts and no walks, and only two of the five runs she allowed were earned.
Smith showed a lot of poise in the bottom of the seventh when it looked like Troup was possibly about to tie the game, or perhaps even win it.
“You could tell toward the last few innings she was running out of gas,” Heath said. “She just pushed through it. Sometimes her defense didn’t have her back, but she just kept digging and digging.”
Abby Taylor, who threw 126 pitches in seven innings, was the tough-luck loser after pitching the complete game and giving up four earned runs.
Katelynn Mobley had two hits and two RBIs for LaGrange, while Sutton and Malone Aldridge each had two hits with a run scored.
Destiny Fitzpatrick walked twice and drove in two runs, Madison Dennis had one RBI, and Jacee Marable, Smith and Abby Vanhoose each had a hit.
For Troup, leadoff hitter Hannah Lane had three hits with an RBI and two runs scored, and Weathers had two hits with an RBI.
Skye Loftin had one RBI, Taylor had a hit and a run scored, and Madison McCartney and Hadleigh Livingston each had hits.
After LaGrange was set down in order in the top of the first, Troup took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Lane led off with a single, and she later scored on a Loftin groundout.
Christina Garcia, who reached on an error, scored the inning’s second run on a wild pitch.
LaGrange got one of those runs back in the second inning, with Mobley coming through with a two-out RBI single.
Troup came right back with a run in the bottom of the second on an RBI double by Lane that brought in Makenzie Miller.
LaGrange pulled within one with a run in the third inning before taking the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth.
In the third inning, Fitzpatrick had an RBI groundout to score Dennis, who reached on an error leading off before moving up on an Aldridge base hit.
In the fourth inning, Smith led off with a double, Vanhoose followed with a bunt single, and Mobley drove in her second run of the game with a single to tie it.
With the bases loaded, Fitzpatrick walked to bring in a run and give LaGrange a 4-3 lead.
Troup evened the score with a run in the bottom of the fourth.
Taylor and Livingston led off with back-to-back singles, and Taylor scored the tying run on an error.
It remained a 4-4 game until LaGrange took the lead, this time for good, with two runs in the sixth inning.
Sutton got things started with a double, and she moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mobley.
Next up was Dennis, and her RBI groundout brought Sutton home with the go-ahead run.
That brought Aldridge up, and she tripled before stealing home, giving LaGrange a 6-4 advantage.
The Lady Tigers were still down by two when they came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
Lane and Garcia had back-to-back RBI singles, and Weathers’ hit brought Troup within a run, and there were runners on the corners with no outs.
That’s when LaGrange got the key pick-off at third.
After a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning, Vanhoose made the play on a groundball at shortstop to finish it.