Published Wednesday, October 03, 2012
By DOUG GORMAN
The first chapter of the Region 3-AAAAAA softball tournament is in the books.
So far, it’s following the predicted story line.
Newnan and East Coweta stayed in the winners’ bracket with easy first-round victories in the four-team double-elimination tournament Tuesday afternoon in games played at East Coweta.
Newnan rolled to a 23-3 victory over Douglas County in a game called after three innings, while East Coweta took care of business with a 13-1 win over Westlake in a game called after four innings.
Newnan and East Coweta will meet tonight at 6:30 at East Coweta for the right to stay in the winner’s bracket.
But barring a miraculous effort by the region’s No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, Douglas County and Westlake, the Lady Indians and Lady Cougars will meet for at least one more time on Thursday to decide the 4-AAAAAA championship.
Westlake and Douglas get the second day of the tournament started with a loser’s bracket game at 4:30.
All four teams are guaranteed of moving on to the Class AAAAAA tournament, with seeding left to be decided.
Newnan and East Coweta did its best to take a solid first step on Tuesday.
(To view photos from both games on Tuesday, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Softball to see both Photo Galleries.)
Newnan 23, Douglas County 3
Newnan spotted Douglas County a run in the top of the first inning, but the momentum quickly shifted in the bottom of the first.
Newnan sent 10 batters to the plate and scored seven times.
Despite letting Douglas County push two more runs across the plate in the top of the second to cut the lead to 7-3, the Lady Cougars put the softball game out of reach by batting around twice in the second and scoring 16 runs.
Everybody in Newnan’s lineup found a way to get on base. Even though the Lady Cougars only batted twice, they took advantage of four hit batters and a collection of Douglas County errors to go along with the 13 hits.
The Lady Cougars also got plenty of support from the bottom half of their lineup. Lindsey Stewart’s bases-loaded triple drove in three RBIs in the top of the first.
Shania Colton and Chaycie Goggins also drove in runs as part of the explosive first inning.
However, in the second the offensive floodgates really opened for the Lady Cougars as they batted around twice.
Sydney Garmany had an RBI and two doubles in the inning. Arden Jobe also reached and scored on a double and single and Chaycie Goggins also had a double to go along with the big inning.
However, Lauren Ferguson had the big blow in the inning with a grand slam. Ferguson finished the game with five RBIs. Stewart finished the game with four RBIs.
Pitcher Tori Loveless picked up the win for the Lady Cougars with a four-strikeout performance.
Douglas County started the game with a run in the first when Emily Jackson drove in Neysa Nelson.
Douglas County added it final two runs of the game in the top of the second when Scarlett Grim doubled and Marissa Marr reached on a fielder’s choice.
Newnan coach Carrie Gilmore said it all about staying focused.
“It just a matter of keeping the momentum on our side,” she said. “We were just trying to eliminate a couple of those key errors. At the region tournament you just have to come in and you have to play 100 percent.”
Newnan improved to 16-11.
East Coweta 13, Westlake 1
East Coweta head coach Franklin Deloach had a simple strategy heading into the first-round opener.
Deloach played his regular starting lineup for about a inning and then got as many players into the game as possible as way to get them tournament experience.
It paid off as the Lady Indians took control in the first inning with a five-run effort en route to the 13-1 win.
Shemiah Sanchez drove in the first run of the game with a double, but Katie Lynch and Maggie Morrow also got into the RBI act in the first.
Senior pitcher Kayla Turner threw all four innings for the Lady Indians, striking out three. Turner gave up just one hit as Myka Roberts singled in second.
Amber Johnson reached on an error in the fourth, and scored Westlake’s only run of the game.
Offensively, East Coweta was led by Lauren Liebe’s three hits and two RBIs. Jenny Matherine also had three hits and an RBI.
“We did what we had to do, we played a lot of girls,” Deloach said.”We were able to get through it injury free. Kayla pitched the ball well, and we got the runs we needed.”
East Coweta improved its record to 25-3-1.
In the first meeting between East Coweta and Newnan, the Lady Indians won 2-0.
This year’s tournament is set up for a showdown on Thursday. The winner of today’s East Coweta-Newnan game will stay in the driver’s seat of the tournament on Thursday.
Thursday’s action starts off with the loser of the East Coweta-Newnan game playing the winner of the Westlake-Douglas game.
That sets the stage for the championship round at 6:30. Should the losers’ bracket team win, a third and deciding game would be played on Thursday as well.
“We have been in that situation before,” Deloach said “The key is coming out playing hard and not letting that happen.”
Gilmore knows anything can happen.
“We are more focused then we have been,” she said, “We are just glad to be in the winner’s bracket.”