Sweet sixteen: Smalley powers Troup to first win of the season on her birthday

Published 9:45 pm Thursday, August 10, 2023

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Sweet sixteen.

Kaitlyn Smalley rang in her 16th birthday in style on the softball diamond, leading Troup to its first win of the season, beating out Bowdon 3-1.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” Smalley said. “I’m so full of happiness right now it is hard to put into words.”

Smalley got the first start of her varsity career on the mound and did not let the team down, throwing 4 2/3 innings and did not have an earned run to her name. She was also the only Tiger with multiple on the night, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and the winning RBI, which she delivered when she hit a single in the bottom of the third inning. 

“I love getting a good hit, but more importantly we got the win,” Smalley said. “It feels so good to get the first win of the season with these girls.”

It was not just the Smalley show on Thursday night for the Tigers. Camdyn Bassett came in and threw 2 1/3 innings in relief, allowing just two hits on three strikeouts, slamming the door on any rally attempt by Bowdon. 

Coach Ryan Simpson has come away impressed with her pitching staff to start the season. 

“As long as our bats are there, we can give anybody a run for their money,” Simpson said. “We held East Coweta to just one run going into the fourth inning, and they eventually got it but when the pitching staff is on it I think we will be good.”

It was a pitcher’s duel early until Hadilee Arnold drove in a run and reached first on an error in the top of the third inning. Smalley doubled the Tigers lead in the next at-bat. 

Bowdon halved the deficit in the top of the fifth inning and could have had more if not for a spectacular play by Haley Kitchens in left field to force a double play. Bowdon got the tying run as far as third base that was the closest the Red Devils would come to getting back in the game.

“We had great communication tonight,” Simpson said. “The girls were louder and really talking out there. I know the girls were tired, but they powered through it.”

The Tigers added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth in the form of a one-run single from Sheniyah Philpot with two outs. 

The Red Devils were able to get runners on second and third in the top of the seventh with two outs, but a spectacular sliding catch by Kitchens ended the game and gave the Tigers their first victory of 2023. 

Patience Watkins, Madeira Sirmons, Bassett and Kitchens all had a hit apiece for Troup. Kitchens has started off the season hot offensively and has a three game hitting streak to start her senior campaign. 

Troup is now 1-2 on the season with the three games coming in the span of three days. 

“We played East Coweta, Harris County, and Bowdon in three days, that’s tough,” Simpson said. “The girls were a little bit stressed out about the schedule but us playing the 7A state runner-ups and a team like Harris County that is going to make a deep run (5A) is going to prepare them for the rest of the season.”

There will be little rest for the weary as the Tigers will suit up in the Hope for a Day tournament against Callaway and LaGrange starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Callaway High School. 

“The girls want to play even when they are tired,” Simpson said. “It’s for a good cause, and we are excited to play.”