Prep Softball: East Coweta gets upperhand on Newnan in 2-0 win
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
The first Newnan-East Coweta softball meeting of the year played in essence like the first of a “Best-of” series. At the end, the feeling was mutual between rival head coaches.
Namely, that there’s more softball left to play in the 2012 season. And it includes at least one more game between the Lady Indians and Lady Cougars in the postseason.
“I think we know, and I think Newnan knows, that we’re going to be the two teams that are most likely going to be around in the playoffs,” East Coweta head coach Franklin DeLoach said. “This win here today is basically to host the region. And it’s always nice to be playing at the house.”
(To view or purchase photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Softball for the Photo Gallery.)
Improving its record to 11-3 and 2-0 in 3-AAAAAA, East Coweta finished with seven hits but had to manufacture runs in the third and fifth innings. Meanwhile, senior pitcher Megan Chocallo got stronger as the game went on in a seven-strikeout effort where she didn’t allow a hit for a four-inning span from the third through the sixth where only two Newnan base runners reached.
Newnan, though, was toughest to put away at the start and the close of play during a day where the strike zone wandered. The Lady Cougars put together singles in the first and second and two more in the seventh while finally able to get a runner to third base following back-to-back two-out hits by Abbie Garner and pitcher Tori Loveless.
That’s when Chocallo ended things on a swinging strikeout to end the game.
“You’ve got to tip your cap to Newnan. They’re a scrappy bunch,” DeLoach said. “Their young lady, Loveless, did a fine job against us.”
Teams combined to strand 12 runners, eight by East Coweta, while as much to the credit of both defenses. Lady Indians right-fielder Katie Bedrosian chased down two hard-hit balls to open the second inning, with Loveless eventually following with Newnan’s first hit of the game in what could have been an RBI situation with the Lady Cougars connecting early among plate appearances that included an intense 13-pitch at bat by Newnan catcher Arden Jobe, who eventually popped out.
East Coweta senior catcher Reba Jones also did her part, throwing out two Newnan runners trying to advance to second in the first and fourth innings.
Later on, second baseman Kia Smith’s glove helped protect the Lady Indians shutout in the seventh with a short leap of a line drive off the bat of Lady Cougar cleanup hitter Chaycie Goggins.
But when the occasional throw went wide, the Lady Indians were the only team that managed to convert as Newnan (4-7, 1-1) suffered its fifth loss by a margin of three or less runs this year. The Lady Cougars No. 2-6 hitters accounted for all four of the team’s hits, two of which came from Loveless, a sophomore.
“We had some key plays where we didn’t execute when we needed it,” said Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore, whose team was coming off a walk-off 3-2 loss Wednesday at Pike County. “We’re getting great leadership from our seniors, but we’ve got some younger girls this year that are slowly coming along. I like that we’ll have time between now and the next time we see them. That’s what I told my girls. We’ve got time to improve.”
East Coweta made more of its chances on Thursday. After converting on Kia Smith’s infield single in the third, where the junior promptly stole second and scored off consecutive groundouts, the Lady Indians scored again off a Newnan throwing error in the fifth to provide insurance.
Fouling off four pitches by Loveless, Lady Indians shortstop Shemiah Sanchez roped a double — the only extra-base hit of the evening — that one-hopped the fence in center field with one out.
After being nearly picked off second when second baseman Lindsay Stewart snared a line-drive, Sanchez broke for third and eventually reached the plate a step ahead of a relay home when teammate Casey Lambert’s two-out dribbler in between the plate and the pitcher’s circle was dropped at first base to put East Coweta ahead 2-0.
Newnan, however, got a break of its own in the bottom of the sixth when Chocallo threw to the right of the first-base bag for a two-base error to open the inning. But the Lady Indians senior retired her next three batters in order, retiring the side with a strikeout.
“They put the bat on the ball in the first couple of innings. But I thought Meg did a real nice job staying with it,” said DeLoach.
NOTE: Newnan will host its annual Alumni softball slow-pitch game on Tuesday following the Lady Cougars’ 5:30 p.m. varsity contest against Langston Hughes. All former Newnan players are welcome to attend.