Lady Warriors keep fighting
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
WOODBURY – There was no surrender.
The season ended for the LaGrange Academy Warriors on Monday in the GISA state softball tournament, but they made Flint River Academy work for it.
In the opener of the best-of-three series, LaGrange Academy staged a stirring comeback with eight runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead, only to lose 14-13 in extra innings.
The second game went to extra innings as well, with Flint River plating four runs in the top of the eighth on the way to the 10-7 victory.
Flint River advances to the championship series in the GISA Class A state playoffs, while the season came to a heart-breaking conclusion for LaGrange Academy, which was looking to win the program’s seventh state title under head coach Charles Parker.
While it was a tough way to see things come to a close, it was an encouraging season for a program looking to re-emerge as one of the state’s best after some lean years.
“We went a couple of years where we weren’t competitive (on the state level),” Parker said. “Now I’m ready to start next year.”
LaGrange Academy loses Ashlee Mains, Felicity Liechty and Sydney Anderson, but everyone else returns, and some newcomers should give the team a boost.
“We’ve got some eighth-graders that are going to help us,” Parker said.
During the regular season, Flint River beat LaGrange Academy 14-11 and 8-6 in games that both went back-and-forth and featured drastic shifts in momentum.
Monday’s games followed a similar script.
LaGrange Academy hung tough and had an opportunity to win both games, only to watch home-standing Flint River find a way to get the upper-hand.
In Monday’s opener, it looked like Flint River was headed for a comfortable victory after taking a 9-3 lead into the seventh inning.
LaGrange Academy staged a dramatic rally, scoring eight runs to take an 11-9 lead, but Flint River tied it with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
LaGrange Academy went back on top with two runs in the top of the eighth, and Flint River won it with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Mollie Olinger had two hits and three RBIs for LaGrange Academy, and Laney Lackey had two hits and three runs scored.
Payton Moody had a hit and three RBIs, including a game-tying double in the seventh inning, and Ashlee Mains had a hit and three RBIs.
McKenzie Jones and Kayla McBride each had a double, Sydney Anderson had a hit, Felicity Liechty walked twice, and Amber Corley reached on a walk.
In the seventh inning, a McBride RBI double cut Flint River’s lead to 9-5, and Moody later pulled her team even with a two-run double.
The Warriors took the lead when Corley reached on an error, allowing two runs to score.
After Flint River tied it to force extra innings, Olinger’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth put LaGrange Academy back on top.
In the bottom of the eighth, Rose Sprayberry’s two-run double with one out gave Flint River the win.
In the second game, LaGrange Academy scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning to take 6-5 lead, and Flint River pushed a run across in the top of the seventh to pull even.
In the top of the eighth, Flint River got a three-run home run from Madison Jones to go up 10-6, and LaGrange Academy needed to score four runs in the bottom of the inning to keep the series, and its season, alive.
LaGrange Academy got one run in the bottom of the eighth, but that was it, and Flint River celebrated its hard-earned series win.
Laney Lackey had two hits and two RBIs for LaGrange Academy, including an RBI double in the fourth inning.
Mollie Olinger added two hits with a double, and Amber Corley had two hits, two walks, and three runs scored.
Sydney Anderson and Payton Moody each had a hit, and Kayla McBride drove in a run.
“We had opportunities. We had opportunities late in both games,” Parker said. “I learned a long time ago, that it’s easier to lose one than it is to win one.”
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