Academy championship team honored
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a class reunion.
During the 1998 season, the LaGrange Academy softball team won the first of six state championships under head coach Charles Parker.
Before Saturday’s game against Lake Oconee Academy, that 1998 team was recognized during a ceremony.
A handful of players from that team were on hand, including Julie Brooker, who just happens to be the head softball coach at Lake Oconee.
Following the ceremony, LaGrange Academy went out and did a fair of impression of those championship teams from past years, beating Lake Oconee 14-3.
For Brooker, who has enjoyed so much success of her own as a coach that includes two state championships, it was meaningful to be back at a place that means so much to her.
Brooker graduated from LaGrange Academy in 1999, and she went on to play softball at the University of Georgia before embarking on a successful coaching career.
“It was awesome,” Brooker said of her return to LaGrange Academy. “It meant the world to me. I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me.”
That championship season was the start of something special for the school’s softball program.
From 1998 to 2011, LaGrange Academy won six state championships in GISA, and it finished second three other times.
LaGrange Academy’s state titles in 1998 and 2000 were in slow pitch, and the championships in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011 were in fast pitch.
LaGrange Academy finished second in the state in 2002, 2005 and 2010.
Parker has been at the helm for each of those state titles, and he also guided the baseball program to multiple championships.
Parker enjoyed seeing his former players, although he said with a wry grin “it makes me feel like I’m getting old.”
Parker is hopeful things have started to turn around for a softball program that has struggled a bit in recent years.
“The last few years haven’t been great, but I think we’re slowly getting back,” Parker said.
In Saturday’s game, LaGrange Academy surged to a big early lead with 11 runs in the first two innings, and it added three more runs in the third inning.
The game finished after four innings because of the run rule.
Everybody in the lineup contributed to the onslaught.
Lanie Lackey had two hits and two RBIs, and Felicity Liechty had a triple and two RBIs.
McKenzie Jones had a hit with two RBIs, and Payton Moody, Megan Allen and Mollie Olinger each had a hit and an RBI.
Amber Corley and Sydney Anderson each had a hit and two runs scored, and Ashlee Mains scored three runs.
Corley was the starting and winning pitcher.
LaGrange Academy will host Gatewood today before Thursday’s home showdown against Flint River.
In a road game last week, LaGrange Academy led Flint River 8-0, but it ended up losing 14-11 on a walk-off home run in the seventh inning.
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