LaGrange ready for tourney run

Published 1:30 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – It wasn’t the finish they were hoping for, but it was still a fine regular season for the LaGrange Lady Grangers.

LaGrange wrapped up the regular season with a 6-1 road loss to Callaway on Wednesday, and the players and coaches will now turn their attention to the Region 5-AAAA softball tournament.

LaGrange finished third in the region, and it will face the number six seed in the opening round of the region tournament next week in a best-of-three series.

LaGrange will host a doubleheader on Monday at 5 p.m., and if needed, a third and deciding game would be on Tuesday.

The winner of the series advances to the state tournament.

LaGrange closed the regular season with a 16-9 record, and it went 8-4 against region opponents.

Those numbers are particularly impressive considering more than half of the team’s regular starters are freshmen.

Among the freshmen who have started or contributed during season are Camden Smith, who has been terrific at pitcher, and Malone Aldridge, Madison Dennis, Abby Vanhoose, Jacee Marable and Kirsten Williams.

“We had a very good outcome this year,” LaGrange coach Gabby Heath said. “We were young at the beginning, but we’ve played so many games. We’re still starting five freshmen, but we’ve gotten a little bit smarter.”

On Wednesday, LaGrange was playing its third road game in as many days.

LaGrange fell to Central-Carroll 9-1 in its region finale on Monday before beating a strong Heard County team 5-2 on Tuesday.

Had LaGrange beaten Central-Carroll, it would have finished second in the region and would have had a chance to play Chapel Hill for the region championship.

LaGrange came up short, but Heath felt it was a valuable experience for her players.

“When we went to play Central, that’s the biggest game that any of the kids in our program had ever been in,” Heath said. “We were playing for number two, for a chance to play for a region championship. That’s pressure that our kids had never felt. It’s a different animal together. For them to feel that at a young age is great for them.”

Against Callaway, LaGrange found itself trailing 5-0 when it scored its only run in the top of the fifth inning.

Kadaysha Griffin was hit by a pitch leading off, and Vanhoose and Dennis each had base hits to load the bases with one out.

Senior Shaq Sutton got a hold of a 3-2 pitch and drove it deep to left field, and the ball was caught at the fence for a sacrifice fly, and LaGrange was on the board.

After Malone Aldridge walked to load the bases once again, Callaway pitcher Oeisha Jenkins got a strikeout to end the inning.

LaGrange went down in order in the final two innings.

Vanhoose and Dennis had LaGrange’s only hits against Jenkins.