LaGrange gets big home win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
A lock-down pitching performance by Camden Smith, combined with some clutch hitting, was enough to lift LaGrange High’s softball team to a 3-1 home win over Cedartown on Thursday.
LaGrange (11-4 overall) improved to 5-2 in Region 5-AAAA and remained in contention for one of the top two spots.
That’s important because the region’s top two teams will play for the region championship at the conclusion of the regular season.
The region’s next four teams will get together to determine the region’s other two state-playoff spots.
“We want to be in those top two for sure,” LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath said. “That sets us up for hosting state, and it sets us up for playing for a region championship. We can’t get there without being one or two.”
LaGrange finished off a regular-season sweep of Cedartown.
In the earlier meeting, it was an offensive affair, with LaGrange outscoring Cedartown 11-6.
In the rematch, runs were at a premium, and LaGrange got RBI singles from Malone Aldridge, Hannah Karcher and Macee Stone.
Those three runs were enough thanks to the performance of Smith, who was backed up by a defense that got the job done.
Cedartown had seven hits and more than 10 total base runners, but Smith kept finding her way out of jams.
Cedartown left two base runners on without scoring in the first two innings, and it came up empty after loading the bases in the fourth inning.
Cedartown also had two runners on in the fifth and sixth innings.
Smith, a sophomore who has been the staff ace since the first game of her freshman season when she threw a one-hitter, said she didn’t let all of the base runners bother her.
“Once the base runners get on, I imagine there’s still nobody on,” Smith said. “I just relax and pitch.”
Cedartown got a pair of two-out singles in the first inning, but Smith got a groundout for the third out.
In the second inning, Cedartown had runners on second and third with one out, but Smith was up to the challenge again, getting a popout and a strikeout to end the threat.
Smith had a stress-free and perfect top of the third, and LaGrange broke through for the game’s first run in the bottom of the inning.
Madison Dennis was hit by a pitch with one out, and after Aldridge reached on an infield single, Karcher’s RBI hit gave LaGrange a 1-0 lead.
Cedartown threatened again in the fourth and fifth innings.
Cedartown loaded the bases in the top of the fourth, and had two runners on in the fifth, but it was unable to score.
LaGrange notched an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth.
Abby Vanhoose got things started with a one-out infield single, and she stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch.
With two outs, Aldridge ripped the ball up the middle for an RBI single, and LaGrange led 2-0.
Cedartown broke through for its lone run in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Reagan Peek, but Smith got the next three batters to keep her team ahead by one.
LaGrange went back up by two with a run in the sixth inning.
Destiny Fitzpatrick was hit a pitch, and she moved up a base on Jacee Marable’s groundout.
That brought Stone to the plate, and the freshman lined the ball to right field to bring in Fitzpatrick and extend the lead to 3-1.
Armed with a two-run lead, Smith returned to the mound for the top of the seventh, and there was no drama.
Smith struck out all three batters she faced, and LaGrange walked away with the key region win.
Aldridge had three of LaGrange’s hits, and Karcher, Marable, Stone, Vanhoose and Holly Lynn had one hit apiece.