Prep Softball: East Coweta rallies, beats Newnan to cap off region title
By DOUG GORMAN
The East Coweta Lady Indians captured the Region 3-AAAAAA softball title Thursday night with a 5-4 victory over rival Newnan.
The Lady Cougars made them work for it.
Unlike Wednesday’s 2-0 victory and near-perfect game by Lady Indian pitcher Megan Chocallo, Thursday's championship could have easily gone to a third game had Newnan pulled out the victory.
Both teams now will be at home to open the best two-of-three series starting Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
“We won the region championship, so I am proud of all the girls,” Franklin Deloach said. “A lot of different players contributed to this win in different ways. This was one of those dogfight type of games.”
It was East Coweta’s seventh region title in eight years as the Lady Indians improved to 27-3-1 overall.
(To view photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Softball for the Photo Gallery.)
Both teams kept the game tight with a collection of home runs and timely hits.
Aggressive base running also kept potential runs off the board as Newnan runners were called out twice for leaving the base early on steal attempts and East Coweta once.
The Lady Cougars (17-14) were also the victim of their own bad luck.
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the seventh inning, the Lady Cougars’ Lindsay Stewart led off the inning with a double before moving to third on a stolen base.
East Coweta turned in the play of the game when center fielder Mekhia Freeman doubled up Stewart trying to tag up from third. One batter later, Lauren Ferguson ripped a solo home run cutting the score to 5-4 in what could have been a go-ahead, two-run homer.
Despite the loss, Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore thinks her team is ready for the state tournament.
“Tonight they came out and just knew they had to get it done,” she said. “We came out with a focus that we haven’t seen in a while. They were able to keep that intensity for seven innings.”
The Lady Indians got two runs in the second inning to take the lead. Maggie Morrow’s two-run shot over the scoreboard sent home Lauren Liebe who had just doubled.
Newnan struck back with a run in the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1 on Abbey Garner’s single to bring home Sydney Garmany. Newnan took a 3-2 lead one inning later when Stewart singled and later scored. Shania Colton then doubled home Garmany.
East Coweta regained the lead in the fifth inning with two more runs as Casey Lambert and Kia Smith each had RBIs. The Indians pushed the lead to 5-3 in the inning when Reba Jones doubled and scored on Katie Lynch’s base hit.
Chocallo finished the game with 10 strikeouts and just one walk.
“We weren’t thinking this might go to a third and deciding game,” Chocallo said. “It was just a team effort and a really good win for us.”
Newnan pitcher Tori Loveless kept her team in the game with two strikeouts and just one walk.
“We really feel when she is on the mound, she is going to keep us in the game,” Gilmore said.
Newnan also got some solid defense from Garmany who turned several hard hit balls by East Coweta into outs, especially early in the game.
The Lady Cougars’ third baseman assisted on three of the team’s first four outs.
Newnan had started the day beating Douglas County 12-0 in three innings. That victory set up the showdown with East Coweta for the region title.
“We know we have a good enough team to go all the way,” she said. “We are just going to have to keep working.”
Deloach isn’t surprised it was a battle to the end.
“We talked to our team about persevering, and playing through some tough moments,” he said.