Lady Indians take big step toward title
by Doug Gorman
East Coweta took a major step toward a Region 3-AAAAAA softball title Wednesday night with a 3-0 victory over rival Newnan in the winners’ bracket of this week’s double-elimination tournament.
The Lady Indians now controls its own destiny while awaiting the winner of today’s 4:30 p.m. game between host and top-seeded Newnan and No. 3 seed Westlake, which survived Wednesday with by defeating Douglas County 10-3.
Today’s opening-game winner will have a tougher climb to the championship trophy, needing two victories tonight against East Coweta and three in all during a busy day in order to claim the region title and the No. 1 seed from 3-AAAAAA in the state playoffs.
A win by Newnan guarantees both county squads will open a best-of-three first round state series at home next week.
Tonight’s region championship game is set for 6:30 and a second game, if needed, would follow around 9 p.m.
East Coweta head coach Franklin Deloach is prepared for any scenario.
“We are glad we won, but we know it is not over,” Deloach said. “I have told our girls there is still a lot of softball yet to be played.”
Playing as the home team on its rivals home field, East Coweta broke open a scoreless game in the bottom of the sixth, pushing across all three of its runs.
The top of the order came through for the Lady Indians as Kia Smith led of the inning off with a base hit, stole second and went to third on Mekhia Freeman’s ground out.
Katie Lynch followed with a clutch RBI single for the eventual game-winner.
East Coweta wasn’t done, however. One batter later, Shemiah Sanchez reached on a single and catcher Reba Jones followed through with a RBI single, scoring Lynch for a 2-0 advantage.
Sanchez later came home from third on a wild pitch to complete the Lady Indians scoring.
The victory avenged Newnan’s 6-5 victory over East Coweta in the regular season, which snapped a streak of nine-straight losses to the Lady Indians.
Lady Cougars head coach Carrie Gilmore said her team can’t overlook today’s opener against Westlake trying to regain its focus while searching for three straight wins tonight.
“We can’t overlook Westlake,” she said. “We have to get the job done there. Hopefully, that will get our bats going. Then we will be ready to play a second game, and hopefully a third game against East Coweta.”
Wednesday’s game was a pitchers’ duel for the first five innings between East Coweta’ sophomore Morgan Goree and Newnan junior Tori Loveless.
Goree continued her late-season surge, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out six including all three Newnan batters in the top of the first.
“She did a really good job out there tonight,” said DeLoach said of Goree. “She is only a sophomore, but she really getting better every time she goes out there.”
Loveless allowed just five hits and three strikeouts while giving her team a chance to rally in their final at bat.
Returning from a bout of appendicitis, senior Chaycie Goggins ripped a pinch-hit two-out double down the line to keep Newnan alive before Goree was able to finish the complete-game victory.
“We are going to bring her along slowly, because we know we need to get her back to full strength for the [state] playoffs,” Gilmore said of Goggins. “But it was good to see her get the hit.”
Arden Jobe had Newnan’s only other hit in the fourth, but the rally ended on a double play by East Coweta.
One inning earlier, Newnan also let its first scoring chance slipping away when Shania Colton and Leslie Davis reached on back-to-back walks but were left stranded.
East Coweta put baserunners aboard in the first and second innings when Freeman and Smith reached with singles, but it didn’t threaten again until the sixth after Loveless retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth
Region 3-AAAAAA Tournament
Lady Indians 3, Lady Cougars 0
NEWNAN 000 000 0—0
EAST COWETA 000 003 X—3
WP — Morgan Goree. LP — Tori Loveless.