LaGrange hangs tough with champs

Published 9:08 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They pushed the champs to the limit, but the LaGrange Lady Grangers fell just short in Tuesday’s Region 5-AAAA showdown.

Central-Carroll, which won a state championship a year ago, scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, and it held on for a 2-1 victory at Granger Park.

While Central-Carroll is now alone in first place in the region at 4-1, LaGrange is in a three-way tie for second at 3-2.

It was a tough loss, but LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath was proud of the way her team bounced back from last week’s 17-1 region loss to Chapel Hill.

“We had that conversation. We had to set a mindset,” Heath said. “They came in and it was great to see they didn’t let that (loss) affect them. They did what they’re supposed to do.”

Central scored first with a run in the top of the third inning, and LaGrange tied it in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by Shaq Sutton.

It remained a 1-1 game until the top of the sixth when Shirley Sharp came through with an RBI single to give Central the lead.

LaGrange’s Madison Dennis walked with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Central pitcher Maggie Harris got a pop-out to end it.

“There were certain situations where timely hitting wasn’t on our side, and they made some good plays in the outfield,” Heath said. “But they did everything we asked. They competed, they played a good, sound game. That’s all we’ve been asking them to do.”

Camden Smith was the tough-luck loser.

The freshman pitcher threw the seven-inning complete game, and she gave up six hits and one earned run with a pair of strikeouts.

“Coming off Chapel Hill, that was huge,” Heath said. “She pitched great. She never let down.”

Chapel Hill jumped on top with an unearned run in the top of the third inning, and LaGrange answered with a run in the bottom of the inning.

With one out, Dennis reached on a one-out single, and Malone Aldridge walked to put runners on first and second.

Next up was Sutton, and she drilled the ball to the center-field fence to bring in Dennis with the tying run.

With runners on second and third, Central managed to get out of the inning with no more runs scoring, and the game remained tied.

LaGrange had a great opportunity to take the lead in the fifth inning.

Abby Vanhoose singled and moved to second on a Dennis sacrifice bunt.

Aldridge followed with a groundball to the left side of the infield, and a throw to third got away. Vanhoose attempted to score on the play, but she was thrown at the plate, and it was still tied.

Central reclaimed the lead, this time for good, in the sixth inning.

Taylor Stephens reached on a two-out double and scored on a Sharp base hit.

Jacee Marable had two of LaGange’s six hits, while Sutton and Dennis each reached base twice with a hit and a walk.

LaGrange will host Bowdon in a non-region game today before returning to region play on Thursday with a game at Cedartown.

The Lady Grangers still have seven region games remaining, and they could still finish the regular season anywhere from first to sixth.

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