Lady Cavaliers look to make history

Published 1:20 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – Earlier this year, Kelly Carlisle helped the Callaway High girls’ soccer team make history.

Before this year, no Callaway High soccer team had ever won a match in the state tournament.

That changed when Callaway overwhelmed Rockmart 6-3 in the spring, with Carlisle doing her part by scoring four goals.

Today, Carlisle is hoping to help another Callaway team enjoy a breakthrough victory.

Callaway’s softball team, which has never won a state-playoff series, will be in Atlanta to take on Douglass in a Class AA first-round matchup.

Callaway finished third in Region 5-AA, while Douglass is the runner-up from Region 6-AA.

They’ll play a doubleheader today, with the first game set for 2:30 p.m.

If needed, a third and deciding game would be on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and the series will be played at Crim High in Atlanta.

Carlisle and Skylar Rice are the two seniors on the team, and they’ve been a big part of what the Lady Cavaliers have accomplished over the years.

For today’s doubleheader, Carlisle will be at shortstop, while Rice will be playing first base, and she could also be called upon to pitch.

Carlisle and Rice are both four-year starters, and this is their fourth trip to the state playoffs.

“Kelly started two years in the outfield, and two years at shortstop,” Callaway head coach Ashley Summerlin said. “Skylar started three years at first, and one year in the outfield, and she’s been a pitcher for us. They basically held down the top and the middle of our lineup for four years. They’re two good ones, two good kids that you want to be the head of the program, and they’ve done a good job for us. You blink your eyes. One day they’re freshmen, and one day they’re leaving.”

Carlisle and Rice are part of a team that has been thriving of late.

At one point, the Lady Cavaliers dropped seven straight games, but they’ve won five of their past eight, including a 12-0 win over Temple on Saturday that secured the number three spot in the region.

Summerlin believes the team is well-positioned heading into the playoffs.

“I think right now, we’re playing the best we’ve ever played since I’ve been here,” Summerlin said. “Defensively, pitching, and offensively, I think we’ve really hit a stride a little bit. We’re definitely playing our best ball right now, which is what you want to do. If we can just keep that going, we’ve got a chance to do some good things, so I’m excited about it.”

Summerlin remembers the excitement surrounding the soccer team in the spring, and he’s hoping his team can duplicate that.

“It’s just like the soccer team last year. The girls’ soccer team had never won a playoff series, either,” Summerlin said. “If you do that, and you’re doing things that you’ve never done before, that means you’re doing something right. We’re excited about it.”

As has been the case most of the season, Oeisha Jenkins will be on the mound today, and she has been sharp down the stretch.

Jenkins pitched a five-inning shutout in Saturday’s 12-0 win over Temple.

Offensively, Callaway has been getting it done as well, scoring six or more runs in five of its past eight games, all wins.

Carlisle and Dukes frequently find their way onto base at the top of the order, and they scored a combined six runs in the Temple game.

Jenkins, Rice, Lydia Bartlett and Kourtney Grier hold down the heart of the order, and Kailea Speer, Lindsay Cofield and Leijorey Sanders round out the lineup.

“We’re playing good defensively, we’re doing some good things at the plate,” Summerlin said. “They’re ready to play. They’re excited about it.”

ROSTER: Kelly Carlisle, Leijorey Sanders, Skylar Rice, Lindsay Cofield, Jasmine Dukes, Kourtney Grier, Kailea Speer, Natalie Waddell, Lydia Bartlett, Oeisha Jenkins and Lexi Furgerson.