LaGrange, Newnan go into extra innings
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
In a game with a playoff feel to it, the LaGrange High and Newnan softball teams needed extra innings to determine a winner during Thursday’s showdown at Granger Park.
Newnan pushed a run across in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead, and it held on for a 4-3 victory.
It was a tough loss for the Lady Grangers, but head coach Gabby Heath was glad that her players were able to participate in the type of game they’ll be in down the road in the state playoffs.
“You can tell the pressure of being in that situation, we haven’t felt that in a while,” said Heath, whose team fell to 4-3. “That’s what it’ll be like if, hopefully, we get to state. That’s what we want the girls to feel. Those are fun games.”
There were some bright spots in the loss.
Senior Camden Smith, who has been excelling on the pitcher’s mound since she was a freshman, threw a complete-game four-hitter with six strikeouts.
LaGrange also made some outstanding defensive plays.
In the top of the fifth inning, center fielder Malone Aldridge made a brilliant diving catch for the third out of the inning, and catcher Holly Lynn made some nice catches up against the fence.
LaGrange also had some defensive miscues that led to two a pair of unearned runs.
“We made some really awesome defensive plays with Malone, and Holly behind the plate making plays,” Heath said. “And then the routine stuff, that we do every single day, that’s what kind of killed us today. We’ve got to be consistent with the little stuff.”
Offensively, Lynn hit a towering home run over the center-field fence in the second inning, and Jacee Marable had a game-tying RBI single in the fifth inning.
Lynn’s home run, her second of the season, gave LaGrange a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning.
Newnan, taking advantage of a pair of LaGrange errors in the third inning, scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead, and it extended the lead to 3-1 on a Kaylen Madrey home run in the top of the fifth inning.
The fifth inning ended with Aldridge soaring through the air to make a diving catch, making sure the deficit remained at two for LaGrange.
“We watch her do that every day at practice,” Heath said of Aldridge’s defensive heroics.
LaGrange pulled even with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and the rally started with two outs.
Abby Vanhoose legged out an infield single, and she raced to third base when the throw to first went awry.
Next up was Aldridge, and when her groundball was misplayed, Vanhoose scored to cut Newnan’s lead to one.
Marable then came through with a hard-hit base hit to right field to score Aldridge, and the game was tied at 3-3.
Neither team scored in the sixth or seventh, so it was on to extra innings.
Newnan started the eighth inning with a runner on second, and Lily Meuninck’s RBI base hit gave her team the lead.
LaGrange came into the bottom of the seventh needing one run to tie it and two runs to win the game.
Like Newnan, LaGrange began its at-bat with a runner on second, and Vanhoose was thrown out at third trying to advance on a wild pitch.
Newnan pitcher Madelyn Veal got the next two batters to ground out, and Newnan escaped with the one-run win.