EC outlasts Newnan to earn 3-AAAAAA title
by Doug Gorman
East Coweta is headed to next week's Class AAAAA tournament as Region 3-AAAAAA softball champions.
But host Newnan made them work for it over a pair of marathon games that brought out the best of the county rivals, both of whom will now try to reach this month's GHSA Elite 8 Tournament in Columbus.
The Lady Cougars won back-to-back games to open Thursday, rallying past the Lady Indians 6-2 in the latter before East Coweta put together a comeback to win the nightcap 6-4 to give head coach Franklin DeLoach his eighth region title.
East Coweta (24-8) had to get past the heart of Newnan's order in the seventh and sophomore pitcher Morgan Goree rose to the occasion striking out two after being unable to close out a lead in the previous game against the Lady Cougars (21-8).
Mekhia Freeman, Reba Jones and Katey Lynch each had RBIs for the Lady Indians in the deciding game after falling behind 2-0 after one inning.
Goree finished the game with eight strikeouts en route the biggest win of her career.
In Thursday's opening game between rivals, East Coweta seemed poised to close out a 2-1 lead, but the Lady Cougars scored five times in the top of the seventh to force a final matchup in the double- elimination tournament.
'I am so proud of the way she pitched,' Deloach said of Goree. 'After what happened in the first game, she was determined to come back with a solid outing in the second game.'
Newnan played three times on Thursday before setting for second seed at next weeks tourney.
Earlier in the day, the Lady Cougars beat Westlake 8-0 in the losers bracket to set up its showdown with Newnan.
In the deciding game, Lady Cougars took an early two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning when Arden Jobe singled and Chacyie Goggins doubled and later scored.
East Coweta added two runs in the second, three in the third and one in the fourth to take control of the game.
'It was good to see us not get down once we fell behind,' Deloach said. 'We just kept working and once we took the lead, we were able to stay out front.'
Goggins, however, tried to bring her team back with a two-run homer to cut into the East Coweta lead to 5-4.
The Lady Indians' bats got a boost from the top of its order early in the finale as Smith, Freeman and Shamiah Sanchez all reached and scored runs to help the team battle back from a 2-0 deficit.
Jobe and Goggins kept hot bats going in the second game for the Lady Cougars with Jobe reaching three times and Goggins - returning from appendicitis - adding a double to go with her homer. The senior designated hitter had two RBIs in the first win over East Coweta and three extra-base hits during the tournament.
East Coweta was stellar defensively in the finale, with its gloves making as much a difference in a game where Newnan made three errors. The Lady Indians came up with two defensive gems in the sixth when leftfielder Lynch made a huge defensive play with a diving catch.
Teammate Gracelyn Newman then knocked down a ball at third and threw it on to first in time for the out to keep the Lady Cougars off the bases.
In the first game Thursday between two teams, Newnan trailed 2-1 in the seventh inning, before batting around and scoring five times in the seventh.
Lauren Ferguson has the big blow in the seventh inning to pace the rally with a single to drive in two runs.
Newnan out hit East Coweta 10-5 in the first contest to help set up the deciding game.
The Lady Indians scored runs in the first and sixth thanks to RBIs from Shemiah Sanchez.
Tori Loveless went the distance for the Lady Cougars striking out five.
Both teams will be at home starting next week when the Class AAAAA state tournament opens with the best of three-series.
East Coweta and Newnan played four times with each team winning twice.
East Coweta will play the No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA, while Newnan faces the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA.