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Callaway hangs tough with Heard

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

FRANKLIN – They had ‘em worried.

During the regular season, Callaway’s softball team lost both of its games to Heard County by a combined score of 17-3.

On a scorching Thursday afternoon, those teams met for the third time this season with a berth in the Region 5-AA-championship game on the line.

Heard County found out early on the script wasn’t going to be the same.

Lydia Bartlett hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give Callaway a 2-0 lead, and Kourtney Grier’s grand slam in the third inning put the visiting team on top 7-0.

While the home-standing Lady Braves were down, they were a long way from out.

Heard County rallied for five runs in the fourth inning to get within two, and it took the lead with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Heard County tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning, and it won the game 10-7 to earn a shot at the region championship.

Heard County beat Lamar County for the region title later on Thursday, and Callaway fell to Bremen 4-2 in the third-place game.

Callaway will be the region’s number four seed, and it will be on the road for the opening round of the state playoffs next week.

While it was a losing day for Callaway, the result of the Heard County game was an indication of how far the team has come.

“We’ve improved,” Callaway coach Robyn McCann said. “We’ve gone from getting run-ruled to where we’re competing now. I’ve been really impressed with them.”

Early on, it was all Callaway.

In the top of the first inning, Bartlett’s two-run home run gave Callaway the 2-0 lead.

It was still a 2-0 game when Heard County threatened in the second inning, but Callaway turned a double play to get out of trouble.

Shortstop Aaliyah Mormon fielded a groundball, and she tossed the ball to Grier at second base, who whipped a throw to first for the double play.

In the top of the third, Callaway exploded for five runs to put Heard County in a 7-0 hole.

Jasmine Dukes was hit by a pitch leading off, and Leijorey Sanders followed with a sacrifice bunt.

Oeisha Jenkins walked to load the bases, and following a pitching change, Bartlett’s RBI single gave Callaway a 3-0 lead.

That brought Grier to the plate, and she launched the ball over the center-field fence for the grand slam, setting off a raucous celebration at home plate.

Callaway’s lead was still 7-0 when Heard County got back into the game with five runs in the fourth inning, with Marissa Garza doing a lot of the damage with a home run.

Heard County claimed the lead in the fifth inning, and Callaway was unable to answer.

“I am so proud of them,” McCann said. There’s stuff we still need to work on, but they have improved so much. They’re working every day. They come to hit on Sundays sometimes. It’s amazing how much they want to be there.”

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