Warriors weren’t going to be denied
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a championship season for LaGrange Academy’s softball team.
With long-time and ultra-successful head coach Charles Parker leading the way, LaGrange Academy swept rival Flint River in November to win the GISA state title.
It was the sixth state championship for the softball program, all with Parker at the helm.
“They’ve been working since June,” Parker said. “Somebody in the dugout made a comment that this is why we’ve been doing this since June. She’s right. This has been a good group of girls.”
Here’s a look at LaGrange Academy’s 2019-2020 year in sports:
WINNING THE TROPHY: In game two of the state-championship series against Flint River Academy, LaGrange Academy’s softball team came to the plate in the sixth inning trailing 6-3.
With the home fans spurring them on, the Lady Warriors staged a seventh-inning rally to take the lead, and they held for a 9-6 victory to secure the championship.
There were plenty of heroes, including senior Megan Allen, whose three-run double with two outs in the sixth inning gave LaGrange Academy the lead.
Having watched her team fight back to tie it, Allen felt the responsibility to come through.
“It was time for me to take leadership and pull through, and do something,” Allen said.
Allen was facing a two-strike count when she got a pitch she could handle, and she drove the ball to the outfield fence for a bases-clearing double to drive in three runs.
While her teammates celebrated, Allen cruised into second base while wearing a massive grin, aware that she’d just helped push her team one step closer to a state title.
Allen had a 1-2 count when she blasted the ball over the center fielder’s head, and Parker waved all three base runners home.
Once Allen made contact and it was clear the ball wasn’t going to be caught, she was aware what it meant
“As soon as I saw it flying, I knew we had the lead,” Allen said.
LaGrange Academy won the first game of the series 2-0, with Amber Corley throwing a complete-game four-hitter.
LaGrange Academy swept Twiggs Academy in the first round of the state tournament.
STATE-BOUND: LaGrange Academy’s girls’ cross-country team enjoyed a successful season that ended with an appearance in the GISA state meet in Albany.
Anna Beth Kinnersley led LaGrange Academy at state with a 16th-place finish, while Chloe Harrell was 30th.
Abbey Thompson, Emmi Horlander and Ellie Grace Eiler were LaGrange Academy’s other participants at state.
LaGrange Academy earned its spot at state with a strong showing at the region meet, with Kinnersley coming through with an 11th-place finish.
LaGrange Academy’s boys’ team was led by Jay Stewart, who had a time of 22 minutes, 38 seconds at the region meet.
CUT SHORT: LaGrange Academy’s track season unfortunately ended early because of the coronavirus pandemic.
LaGrange Academy participated in one meet at Landmark Christian, and senior Haliah Stargell came through with victories in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash.
It was a premature conclusion to an exceptional high-school career for Stargell.
During the 2019 state meet, Stargell finished third in the 100 and the 200, and she was second in both of those events in 2018.
As a freshman in 2017, Stargell was second in the 400-meter run, sixth in the 200, and ninth in the long jump.
WHAT A NIGHT: It wasn’t the season it was hoping for, but the LaGrange Academy boys’ basketball team did enjoy one memorable victory over its biggest rival.
In the region tournament, LaGrange Academy outlasted Flint River Academy 64-63 to advance to the next round.
Terence Broaden made a free throw with five seconds left to give the Warriors the lead, and they had the win when the Wildcats missed a shot at the buzzer, setting off a massive celebration on the court.
Broaden, who will play basketball for Huntingdon College next season, had a big game for the Warriors with 25 points.
LaGrange Academy’s season ended two games later with a loss to top-seeded Furtah Prep.
On the same night LaGrange Academy’s boys’ team beat Flint River, the girls’ team also came away with a thrilling victory in the region tournament.
In a low-scoring game, LaGrange Academy beat St. George’s 24-22 to pull off the upset.
LaGrange Academy was trailing by a point when it went on a 6-1 run at the start of the fourth quarter to build a four-point lead, and it was ahead the rest of the way.
Kayla McBride led LaGrange Academy with 11 points, including four key points in the fourth quarter.
ENDING EARLY: What was shaping up to be a busy spring for LaGrange Academy’s sports teams ended in the middle of March because of the coronavirus shutdown.
LaGrange Academy’s soccer teams had played a few matches when the season was canceled, the track team had participated in one meet, and the baseball team had yet to play a game.