Prep Softball: East Coweta able to cruise past Newton
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
All the drama of East Coweta’s first-round Class AAAAAA state softball playoff series with Newton amounted to one inning — and roughly one swing — during the Lady Indians’ sweep of the Lady Rams on Wednesday at home.
Newton surprised fourth-ranked East Coweta with two runs on a first-inning homer in game one but reached first base just three times from there on in a relatively stress-free sweep for the Lady Indians following 10-2 and 12-0 victories, neither of which went the full seven innings.
The Region 3-AAAAAA champion Lady Indians (29-3-1) were overwhelming favorites heading into their state playoff opener against a Newton team that won two games during the 2012 season. Despite needing three at-bats to finally take the lead for good in the doubleheader, East Coweta batters went without a strikeout through both games, connecting in every at bat.
It took a six-run third inning in game one to get things rolling against the Lady Rams paced by RBI hits from a trio of younger Lady Indians — sophomores Shemiah Sanchez and Katie Lynch along with freshman Maggie Morrow.
The opener lasted five innings and the nightcap just four.
(To view the Photo Gallery from this series, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Softball.)
East Coweta’s bats then pushed 11 runs across in the first-two innings of game two. Sanchez finished the day 4-for-5 with four near-identical singles, all hit sharply through the left side of the infield.
Lynch, meanwhile, was on her way to a potential cycle, crushing a two-run homer on her first pitch in the top of the first and then adding a two-run triple while the Lady Indians sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the second while acting as the visitors.
“I know this is a little bit of a reward for us for winning the region,” East Coweta head coach Franklin DeLoach said. “We went out there and did what we had to do. From here on out, it only gets tougher. Coach [Matt] East and I both addressed that to the girls. What we need is to get productive practices in the next couple of days. Because the next time we’re in some of these situations, it’s not going to be so easy.”
Chocallo pitched the entire second game while trying to get as close to 100 pitches as possible in her only work before next week’s second round playoff series, which will also be played at East Coweta. The Lady Indians await today’s Game 3 winner between Region 4-AAAAAA No. 2 seed South Cobb (20-9) and 1-AAAAAA’s No. 3 seed, Colquitt County (16-14) after the teams split Wednesday’s doubleheader.
East Coweta is now just two victories away from its eighth consecutive trip to the Class AAAAAA Elite 8 State Tournament in Columbus. All seven previous, however, have ended with losses.
“We know from here on in we’re going to be playing the types of teams we’ve played all year, the Newnan’s, the Northgate’s,” DeLoach said.
On Wednesday, East Coweta also showcased its depth while senior infielder Casey Lambert watched from the stands trying to recover from a case of bronchitis.
Lynch, who didn’t play much early in the season after returning from summer nationals, proved she could handle herself at the plate. The sophomore finished both games 4-for-4 with a single, double, triple and a homer over the two games.
“She’s come on strong,” DeLoach said of Lynch, who also adds depth behind starting catcher Reba Jones. “The fact that she can catch gives us that many more options.”
Jones, Mekhia Freeman and Lauren Leibe contributed to East Coweta’s eight hits in game one. Leadoff hitter Kia Smith reached base four times and scored four runs. The Lady Indians took advantage while 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts.