Successful tournament for Troup softball team
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Troup High’s softball team arrived at Shuford Fields on Wednesday afternoon knowing it was in the state playoffs.
The Lady Tigers didn’t just want to be in the playoffs, though, they wanted to be at home for a first-round series, and to make that a reality they knew they’d have to win two games on Wednesday in the Region 2-AAAA tournament.
Troup made it happen.
After staging a dramatic late-game rally to beat Columbus 5-4, Troup overpowered Shaw 16-2 to earn a spot in the region-championship game against LaGrange.
Troup lost to LaGrange 8-0, but it was nonetheless a successful day for a program that made history by securing a home series in the state playoffs for the first time ever.
Emilee Johnson, one of three seniors on the team, knew that if the Lady Tigers finished third or fourth, they’d be faced with a bus ride of around five hours to Savannah for the first-round matchup.
Now, thanks to Wednesday’s performance, Johnson and her teammates will be able to play in their backyard and let another team make the long bus ride.
“It shows a lot about our mentality, and the fact that we don’t quit, and we’ll keep playing,” Johnson said. “We definitely did not want to go to Savannah. We had to win that game, and the Shaw game. We were going pick it up, and we were going to take care of business.”
Troup, which split its two tournament games on Monday, appeared to be in trouble against Columbus after falling behind by two runs in the sixth inning.
Troup rallied for two runs in the sixth inning to tie it, and it won the game on an RBI infield single by Jennifer Albertson in the bottom of the seventh.
“That was one of our better ballgames,” said Troup’s first-year head coach, Ryan Simpson. “It’s either been we’ve gotten run-ruled, or we run-ruled someone.
“We’d only had a few close games, and that was one. You can’t beat a game like that. That’s the type of ballgames I want. It was great.”
Morgan Watkins had an RBI single in the sixth inning to get Troup within one, and Johnson’s groundout brought in another run to tie the game at 4-4.
After pitcher Maggie McDonald set Columbus down in order in the top of the seventh, Troup won it with a run in the bottom of the inning.
Lexi Parker got things started with a one-out single, and McDonald followed with a base hit, and Albertson stepped to the plate with the winning run on third.
Albertson made contact and put the ball in play for the infield single, and Parker came racing home with the winning run.
McDonald was one of the stars of the game.
McDonald had three hits, and she also pitched three scoreless and hitless innings to get the win.
Albertson also had three hits and three RBIs, and she drove in two of those runs with a double in the second inning.
Watkins had a hit and an RBI, Ramsey Clark and Parker both had hits, and Johnson had an RBI.
There was no suspense in the Shaw game, with Troup busting it open with 13 runs in the third inning on the way to the 16-2 win.
The Lady Tigers only had five hits, but they showed patience at the plate and walked 13 times.
Caroline McInvale had a triple and two RBIs, McDonald had a hit and two RBIs, and Smalley had a double and an RBI, and she walked twice.
Clark had a hit and two RBIs from the leadoff position, and Johnson had a hit an RBI, and she walked and scored two runs.
Casey Sani had two RBIs, and she walked twice and scored two runs, Haley Cotton had one RBI with two walks, Albertson walked twice and scored two runs, and Parker walked and scored a run.
McDonald started and pitched 1 2/3 innings, and Smalley didn’t give up any hits or runs in 2 1/3 innings on the mound.
The win over Shaw gave Troup a title shot, but it was unable to get anything going against LaGrange pitcher Camden Smith, who threw a one-hitter.
Clark had Troup’s lone hit, and it came with two outs in the sixth inning.
Smalley went the distance for Troup and pitched 5 1/3 innings.
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