High School Softball
Goggins powers Newnan into AAAAAA Sweet 16
by Doug Gorman
If there was any doubt that Newnan senior shortstop Chaycie Goggins was feeling 100-percent at the plate following her recent appendectomy, it took just one swing to prove it.
With the third-and deciding game in the first round of the Class AAAAA state tournament against Colquitt County tied at 0 in the bottom of the sixth, Goggins crushed the ball over the left field fence for a solo home run and 1-0 lead that stood up the rest of the way.
Goggins missed two weeks of action late in the regular season, but has slowly worked her way back into the lineup starting with last week's region tournament.
Newnan's power-hitting senior came up to the plate with one out in the inning and waited on a 0-1 pitch to account for the Lady Cougars' only run of the game.
She wasn't thinking about a homer, despite hitting the ball almost all the way to the Newnan High tennis courts.
'I just wanted to get on base and help my team,' Goggins said. 'They have been helping me and picking me up since I have been out. Hannah Scarbrough did a great job at shortstop, stepping up for me, and I just want to help them get there. This has to be the year.'
The victory moves Newnan into the Class AAAAAA Sweet 16 against either North Cobb or Alcovy next week.
Those two teams also were slated to play a deciding game on Thursday as well.
A win in that series sends Newnan to the Elite 8 in Columbus for the first time since 2010.
Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore is excited to get her senior back for a possible stretch run.
'It is so good to have her back,' said Carrie Gilmore. 'She obviously came up huge.'
Goggins, Gilmore and just about everybody in attendance knew the ball was headed over the fence as soon as she connected.
Her timing could have been better as members of the Newnan football team and coaching staff happened to be walking past the field she unloaded on the pitch.
'The football team saw it, and everybody in the stands saw it,' Gilmore said. 'There was no doubt it was going out. I don't think they have every seen one hit that far.'
Newnan and Colquitt split the first two games of the bestof- three series Wednesday to force the deciding game played in a steady drizzle Thursday afternoon.
Despite the wet weather the third game of the of series turned into a pitcher's duel between Newnan's Tori Loveless and Colquitt's Nikki Johnson.
Loveless allowed just four hits, including a infield single to Taylor Owens to start the game. She also struck out a batter in the fifth and one in the seventh.
'This is the fun part,' Loveless said. 'It's a little bit stressful, but it great to be moving on to the next round.'
Amber King's double in the third accounted for the Lady Packers' only extra base hit.
Loveless pitched around Colquitt County hits in the fourth and sixth and got out of the innings with some timely defense.
A double play by the Lady Cougars helped end the Lady Packers scoring threat in the sixth.
Offensively, Newnan got a leadoff base hit from Loveless, who was moved up to the lead off spot against Colquitt and a single from Lindsay Stewart in the second.
Newnan's first chance to score came in the fifth when senior Tori Neill and Lauren Ferguson came through on back-to-back base hits.
However both base runners were left stranded on second and third.
After Goggins staked the Lady Cougars to the lead, Loveless struck out the first batter she faced in the seventh.
The next two batters were retired in order to clinch the win for the Lady Cougars.
Loveless was confident the lead was going to hold up heading to the last inning.
'My team backed me up,' she said. 'It felt great to get the strikeout. I have never been to the Elite 8, so that is the goal.'
Gilmore can sense the confidence of her team growing.
'I wish we had won in two games, but now we know what it is like to play under pressure,' Gilmore said. 'Hopefully we can carry this on to Columbus.'
LADY COUGARS 1, LADY PACKERS 0
Colquitt County 000 000 0 -0 Newnan 000 001 x -1 WP - Tori Loveless HR - Chaycie Goggins