High School Softball
EC, Newnan ready to turn attention elsewhere
by Doug Gorman
East Coweta and Newnan softball teams open the Class AAAAAA state tournament at home today after spending most of last week battling each other out for a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
In the end, last week's Region 3-AAAAAA tournament came down to a clash between the two rivals with East Coweta (24-8) beating Newnan (24-7) in the thirdand- deciding game of the region championship series. The Lady Indians opens the tournament with a best-ofthree series against Coffee (17-9), while the Lady Cougars host Colquitt County (18-10). Both series open as a doubleheader starting at 4:30. Region 1-AAAAAA didn't have a tournament and decided its seeding on the regular season standings.
Last week's region championship was the eighth for East Coweta head coach Franklin Deloach.
'They are starting to buy into what we are doing,' he said. 'I am proud of them for winning another region title, I am not sure I would have predicted it at the beginning of the season.'
The Lady Indians won the title despite finishing second in the regular season Region 3-AAAAAA standings behind Newnan.
The Lady Cougars knocked off the Lady Indians in the regular season for their first win against their biggest rivals in nine years to go into the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
However in the region tournament, the two teams met up again three times with East Coweta winning twice, including 6-4 in the game to decide the Region 3-AAAAAA champion.
The Lady Indians played some of their best softball at the end of the season, posting five shutouts in its last nine games.
East Coweta sophomore pitcher Morgan Goree struck out 23 batters in the Lady Indians' four region tournament games.
'She has really grown up,' he said after the team clinched the region title.
Goree showed her tenacity at the end of third game and deciding game with Newnan, striking out two in the seventh inning against the heart of the Lady Cougars order.
Offensively, the Lady Indians enter the Class AAAAAA state tournament using a combination of speed and power.
In the final game against the Lady Cougars, Kia Smith, Reba Jones and Shemiah Sanchez each finished with extra base hits. Jones also had two RBIs.
Colquitt County comes into the contest showing the ability to score runs. In two games late in the season against Valdosta, the Lady Packers scored 34 runs. They also shutout five opponents this year. Newnan got a huge lift at the region tournament with the return of Chaycie Goggins. Goggins, who missed nearly two weeks of action with appendicitis, returned for the final tournament games against East Coweta while displaying plenty of power.
In her first at-bat back in the lineup, the senior ripped a double, the first of two against the Lady Indians to go with a home run among her three extra-base hits.
'We are so glad to have her back,' Newnan coach Carrie Gilmore said at last week's region tournament. 'Right now we are just using her in a very hitting situations. We just want her to make a full recovery. We aren't going to push her too hard. We can't wait to get her back.'
Lady Cougars Arden Jobe, Lindsay Stewart, and Chasity Meadows each had multihit games during the region tournament.
Junior pitcher Tori Loveless turned in three solid outings against East Coweta at the region tournament, striking out nine batters, including five in the 6-4 victory over the Lady Indians to force the deciding game.
Colquitt County closed out its season on an eight-game winning streak. It it included beating Crisp County twice. The winning streak also included a 3-0 victory over Coffee.
There is plenty of tournament history between Colquitt and Newnan.
The Lady Cougars eliminated Colquitt County in the first round of 2011.
Gilmore said last week several little things have to come together in order for the Lady Cougars to make a run.
'Every little thing matters,' she said. 'You have to be able to make an adjustment at the plate. The little things all have to come together.'