Published Thursday, October 11, 2012
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Newnan senior first baseman Abbie Garner shared the thoughts of the final home games of her varsity softball career on Twitter prior to Wednesday’s doubleheader against Luella.
“Today is my last night playing on that Newnan High School softball field,” she tweeted just prior to gametime. “So many hours and days spent on that field... Gonna get that W!”
Garner was only half right, however.
The Lady Cougars took a pair of victories against the Lady Lions at home to complete a doubleheader sweep in their Class AAAAAA first-round state playoff series. Rattling off 9-0 and 6-2 wins over Luella, Newnan returned to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season and pulled within a victory of a fourth straight 20-win campaign.
More importantly, while getting a shutout effort from sophomore pitcher Tori Loveless in game one and two-hit games from Garner, fellow senior Sydney Garmany and junior Chaycie Goggins in the finale, the Lady Cougars are two more wins away from returning to the Elite 8 State Tournament in Columbus for the first time since 2010.
“That’s what we’re talked about,” Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore said. “Our seniors knew that this was it for them here. We set the tone in game one, but Luella never let up against us. They kept coming at us.”
The Lady Cougars (19-13) advance to play Region 4-AAAAAA champions Kennesaw Mountain (27-3-1) next week in Cobb County for the right to advance to Columbus. The Lady Mustangs earned 9-3 and 11-0 victories over Coffee to sweep their first-round series.
(To view the Photo Gallery from this series, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Softball.)
Newnan had its bats going in game one, plating three runs in the second and four more in the fourth to take the upper hand against Luella (14-13-2), which finished 7-2 in Region 2-AAAAAA this year including a 2-0 win over third-ranked Alcovy before losing back-to-back games in its postseason tournament.
Coggins, sophomore Arden Jobe, senior Savannah Thomley and sophomore Lauren Ferguson all had two hits in game one.
The finale remained scoreless until the top of the third when Garmany started a rally with a double before Coggins belted a clutch two-out homer that seemed to set things into motion for the Lady Cougars.
“Chaycie’s homer really got us going in the second game,” Gilmore said.
Newnan added three runs in the fourth to push the lead further, getting hits from Lindsay Stewart and one from Garmany to drive in a run.
Ahead 5-1, the Lady Cougar defense doubled-up a Luella runner in the bottom of the fourth to help snuff out a rally by the Lady Lions, then got a run back in the top of the fifth.
Loveless fouled off several pitches before lacing a two-strike single to center-field and one batter later, senior Sierra Burston laced a pinch-hit single to center field, upping the Newnan lead to 6-1.