High School Softball
Newnan ends nine-year drought against EC
by Doug Gorman
Local softball fans might be witnessing a changing of the guard. After usually coming up on the short end of the stick, Newnan did something Thursday night it hadn’t been able to pull of in nine years—beat rival East Coweta on the softball diamond.
A 6-5 victory over the Lady Indians on the road was Newnan’s first softball win against their closest rivals in more than 20 attempts.
The last time Newnan beat East Coweta was in the 2004 state sectionals in Tifton, head coach Carrie Gilmore’s first year.
It also puts Newnan in the driver’s seat in the Region 3-AAAAAA standings.
Newnan improves to 5-3 overall and more importantly 2-0 in a weak region outside the county’s two local teams. East Coweta dropped to 6-3 and 1-1.
“It’s a great feeling knowing we are going to go into the region tournament with the home field advantage,” said Gilmore. “It is going to be great to be able to play in front of our home fans.
Newnan’s biggest win in almost a decade came on the road in front of a packed house with supporters from both schools showing up to cheer on their team.
“It was really a good crowd tonight,” Gilmore said. “This is tough place to play, but I thought we did a really good job handling it.”
The Lady Cougars built a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, scoring all of their runs with a two-out rally.
The rally broke East Coweta’s back.
“Hats off to Newnan,” said Franklin Deloach. “They did a really good job of capitalizing on some of our mistakes. They deserved to win. They outplayed us tonight. They are a very good team.
Newnan pitcher Tori Loveless picked up the win for the Lady Cougars. Despite giving up 10 hits, she struck out three and pitched out of jams, including in the seventh after the Lady Indians cut the lead to 6-5.
“I knew I couldn’t let them get me down,” Loveless said. “I knew I had to keep fighting. This is fantastic, we are going to ride this high for a while.”
Newnan staked Loveless to the lead when Arden Jobe doubled on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the top of the first to start the four-run rally.
“Words can’t describe how we feel tonight,” Jobe said. “We always try to come out and play as hard as we can against them. It is just fantastic to be able to finally beat them after all of this time.”
Maysen Willard had the big blow of the first inning as her double drove in three of the Lady Cougar’s runs.
East Coweta cut the lead to 4-3 in bottom of the third. Katey Lynch’s RBI double and an RBI single from Maggie Morrow sparked the inning.
Single runs in the fifth and sixth gave the Lady Cougars two more insurance runs and increased the lead to 6-3, but the Lady Indians weren’t done yet.
Shemiah Sanchez walked and Lynch doubled to put runners in scoring position to start the seventh.
Morrow added her second RBI of the game when Sanchez scored on her ground ball. Reba Jones then knocked in the final run of the game.
Like she did so many times throughout the game, Loveless was able to put out the fire in the seventh.
“I shouldn’t let myself get in a position where I have to pitch out of jams like that, but it was a good victory,” said the Newnan pitcher. “My teammates did a good job of backing me up.”
Gilmore knew East Coweta wasn’t going to roll over down the stretch.
“They are going to play hard for all seventh innings,” Gilmore said. “We have been working hard on finishing the game and we were able to do that tonight.”
Despite the loss, East Coweta sophomore pitcher Morgan Goree finished with five strikeouts.
“I thought she did a really good job after that first inning tonight,” Deloach said. “She is only going to get better as the season goes on.”
Offensively, Willard, Jobe, Loveless and Davis each had two hits for Newnan.
Willard finished the game with four RBI.
Lynch and Kia Smith each had two hits for East Coweta.
Newnan plays a non-region game at home on Monday. East Coweta is at home on Monday against Northgate in a non-region game.
Lady Cougars 6, Lady Indians 5
Newnan 400 011 0—6
East Coweta 003 000 2—5