Winning weekend for LaGrange Academy
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s shaping up to be another special season for the LaGrange Academy softball team.
After rolling to a GISA state championship in 2019, LaGrange Academy figures to be a leading title contender once again this fall with nearly every player returning, along with long-time coach Charles Parker.
If the first weekend of play is an indicator, the Lady Warriors appear fully capable of living up to those high expectations.
Facing three opponents from the GHSA in the Callaway Classic, LaGrange Academy went 2-1, with its lone loss coming to a strong Brookstone team that went 4-0 over the weekend and outscored its opponents 39-7.
“I’m extremely proud of the way we played,” said Parker, who has led LaGrange Academy to six state titles in softball. “These schools have enrollment of two, three times as much as us.”
Looking ahead to the remainder of the season, Parker said “I’m excited about what we’ve got in front of us.”
Part of that optimism comes from having two elite pitchers, including Amber Corley, who was the winning pitcher in wins over Shaw and Callaway.
Lanie Lackey also threw well on Saturday and was the tough-luck loser in a 4-1 loss to Brookstone in a game that was tied headed to the seventh inning.
“Our pitching was good all weekend long,” Parker said.
Corley is the staff ace, and she was the winning pitcher in both games against Flint River in the state-championship series last year.
Lackey, who is usually the starting shortstop, gives LaGrange Academy a formidable number two option on the mound.
“She has worked really hard,” Parker said.
Joining Lackey and Corley is nearly every other key contributor from last year’s team, including Kayla McBride, Natalee Waddell, Mackenzie Jones, Caley Worsley, Kelsey Cotton, Morgan Bartlett and Lexi, and newcomer Carolyn Lehman has stepped in to play catcher.
After beating Shaw and Callaway, LaGrange Academy was looking to finish the weekend with an unbeaten record.
Standing in LaGrange Academy’s way was Brookstone, which had overwhelmed each of its opponents to that point.
Lackey was terrific for LaGrange Academy while going toe-to-toe with Brookstone pitcher Cydnee Harrison.
It was tied at 1-1 when Brookstone took the lead on a two-out single, with Corley nearly making a sensational leaping catch at shortstop on a softly-hit ball.
“You’d almost rather lose on a line shot than a bloop single for the go-ahead run,” Parker said. “I think it tipped her glove. It is what it is.”
LaGrange Academy scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning, with Lackey’s two-out single bringing in Lehman with the tying run.
Lehman had two hits for LaGrange Academy, and Lackey had one hit.
On the mound, Lackey gave up five hits and three hits in seven innings with four strikeouts.
Earlier on Saturday, LaGrange Academy outlasted Callaway 4-2, with Corley tossing the complete game while giving up five hits with eight strikeouts.
Corley had two hits with a double, Jones and Cotton each had two hits, and Lehman and Lackey each had a hit and an RBI.
On Friday, LaGrange Academy overwhelmed Shaw 9-0 in a game shortened to five innings because of the run rule.
Corley and Lackey each pitched innings and combined for the one-hit shutout.
Offensively, Lackey had a big game with three hits and three RBIs, Waddell had two hits, Lehman had a hit, two walks and an RBI, Cotton had a hit and an RBI, Bartlett and Corley each had a hit, and Worsley drove in a run.