LaGrange drops state opener

Published 11:36 pm Thursday, October 24, 2019


Daily News

COLUMBUS – They’re down, but far from out.

The LaGrange Lady Grangers opened their stay in the eight-team Class AAAA state softball finals with an 8-0 loss to defending state champion Heritage-Catoosa on Thursday evening at the South Commons Softball Complex.

Fortunately for the Lady Grangers it’s a double-elimination tournament, so they’ll have at least one more game to play.

LaGrange will play Northside-Columbus on Friday at 2 p.m., with the winner playing another elimination game at 8 p.m.

Northside-Columbus knows something about coming out of the loser’s bracket to make a run at a title.

Northside, which won the state title in 2017, dropped its first game last year before making it all the way to the championship game where it lost to Heritage.

“Northside did the exact same thing last year,” LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath said. “They lost their very first game, and then went through the loser’s bracket and won the championship. It’s possible.”

In Thursday’s game, LaGrange had no answer for Heritage pitcher Rachel Gibson, who was nearly untouchable.

LaGrange was held to three hits, two by Malone Aldridge and one by Kirsten Williams, and that was it.

Gibson only needed 71 pitches to make it through seven innings, and she struck out 11 batters and didn’t walk anyone.

Heritage scored two runs in the first inning, and it added four more runs in the fourth inning before capping the scoring with two runs in the top of the sixth.

LaGrange, despite the dominance of Gibson, did have two scoring opportunities.

In the first inning, Aldridge reached on an infield single leading off, and she stole second before moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Madison Dennis.

Gibson escaped that jam by getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

LaGrange’s other scoring chance came in the seventh and fial inning.

Williams reached on a one-out bunt single, and Aldridge followed with a double to the fence, putting runners on second and third.

Gibson was able to get the final two outs with any runs scoring, though, to complete the shutout.

Camden Smith, who has had a phenomenal junior season, pitched a complete game for LaGrange.