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Troup advances in state tournament

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

If it was their final time playing on their home field, the Troup Lady Tigers made it count.

Facing New Hampstead in the opening round of the Class AAAA state softball tournament on Monday, Troup won both games of the doubleheader to advance to the second round for the first time in the history of the program.

It wasn’t close.

After winning the first game 12-0, Troup (13-11) completed the sweep with a 13-1 victory.

Troup, which finished second in the Region 2-AAAA tournament, advances to the round of 16 to face West Laurens in Dublin, and they’ll play a doubleheader on Thursday, and a single game on Friday if needed.

There’s a chance the Lady Tigers could be at home again if the bracket falls their way, but as Monday’s doubleheader wound down, the players realized that it’s likely they’d played their final game on their home field.

“We won, and that was best thing, but knowing that I’ll probably never play on this field again, it hurts,” said Hadleigh Livingston, one of three seniors on the team along with Emilee Johnson and Emelie Reed.

While there were a few tears when the games were done, it was nonetheless a special and enjoyable day, and Livingston savored the opportunity to once again be on the diamond with her friends and teammates and do what she loves to do.

“It’s fun just to let loose with your teammates, and just have a blast,” Livingston said.

Reed, who transferred to Troup for her senior season, has enjoyed seeing the way all of the players on the team have developed during the summer and fall.

“Being able to see the changes in all the girls from the beginning of the season, it’s been really great to see us all grow together,” Reed said. “It’s the commitment, and all the hard work.”

Troup is led by first-year head coach Ryan Simpson, and she appreciates how easy the players have been to work with during a challenging summer and fall with all of the Covid-19-related issues.

“There’s been no drama this year,” Simpson said. “There hasn’t been anything. They’ve played together. They’ve played so well. It’s been wonderful.”

It had been more than a week since Troup had played, but there were no signs of rust on Monday.

Troup was sharp, playing well in all facets of the game to easily advance to the next round.

“It was great,” Simpson said. “I had no complaints, and I always have complaints.”

Knowing the season would be over if things didn’t go well, Troup came out firing and didn’t look back.

“We came in thinking we need to win this game no matter what,” Reed said.

Troup took care of business in game one, beating New Hampstead 12-0 in a game that ended in the bottom of the fourth inning because of the run rule.

Leading 3-0, Troup broke it open with four runs in the third inning, and it finished the game with four runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Maggie McDonald, who was not only the winning pitcher, also got it done offensively with two hits and two RBIs.

Reed had two hits a walk and two RBIs while scoring three runs, leadoff hitter Ramsey Clark had two hits with a double and an RBI, and Lexi Parker had a hit and two RBIs.

Livingston had a double and an RBI, Jennifer Albertson had a hit, and Haley Cotton walked and scored two runs.

McDonald got the job done on the mound, throwing a four-inning shutout while giving up just two hits.

In game two, Troup pounded out 14 hits, and nine of the players had at least one hit.

After scoring a single run in the first inning, Troup took control with six runs in the second inning to build a 5-1 lead.

Troup added two runs in the third inning before completing the scoring with five runs in the top of the fifth.

The game ended because of the run rule when New Hampstead didn’t score in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Reed had two hits and two RBIs, and Parker, McDonald, Albertson and Livingston each had two hits and one RBI.

Clark, Shelby Addison and Haley Cotton each had a hit and one RBI, and Johnson drove in one run.

Cotton had a triple, and Addison, Albertson, Livingston, Parker and Reed each had a double.

Catherine Smalley pitched the five-inning complete game, and she limited New Hampstead to three hits and one run while striking out five.