Troup softball team continues state run
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’ve made history, and the Troup Lady Tigers will try to keep the good times rolling on Thursday when they continue their state-playoff journey.
Troup, after beating New Hampstead for the first state-playoff win in the history of the softball program, will visit West Laurens on Thursday with a spot in the final eight on the line.
West Laurens, the number one team from Region 4-AAAA, beat Dougherty in a first-round
matchup on Monday.
Troup, which finished second in Region 2-AAAA, thumped New Hampstead 12-0 and 13-1 to get that breakthrough win at state.
If Troup can go on the road and beat West Laurens, it will play either Madison County or Marist with a spot in the final four on the line.
Regardless of the outcome of the West Laurens series, it has already been a phenomenal season for a team led by first-year head coach Ryan Simpson, who was a standout pitcher at Point University after graduating from Valley (Ala.).
During a year when there has been a lot of uncertainty because of Covid-19, Simpson appreciates the way the players have gone about their business.
“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.”
Troup has shown plenty of resiliency as well.
In the region tournament, Troup lost its opener to Shaw, but it bounced back to win its next three games before falling to LaGrange in the championship game.
That performance allowed Troup to host a state-playoff series for the first time ever.
“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,” said Emelie Reed, one of three seniors on the team along with Emilee Johnson and Hadleigh Livingston.
While Reed is a newcomer to the team this season, Livingston and Johnson have been with the program since they were eighth-graders.
All three seniors have been willing to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed, and Livingston provided a text-book example of that when she moved from shortstop to third base during the season.
“If that’s how we win, that’s how we win, and I’ll do it,” Livingston said.
Reed, one of Troup’s starting outfielders, said the key to the team’s success has been “the commitment, and all the hard work.”
In the New Hampstead series, everyone contributed.
Maggie McDonald and Catherine Smalley each pitched well, and while the defense was outstanding, everyone in the lineup delivered.
Johnson, Reed, Livingston, Ramsey Clark, Lexi Parker, McDonald, Jennifer Albertson, Casey Sani, Shelby Addison and Haley Cotton all contributed offensively during the series.
Troup will likely need to be at its best to get past a strong West Laurens team.
West Laurens (30-3) brings a seven-game winning streak into the series, and it has won 15 of its past 16 games.
WHAT: Second round of Class AAAA state playoffs
WHEN: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. (doubleheader)
WHERE: West Laurens