Georgia Dugout Club
Local trio selected to play in all-star tournament
by Doug Gorman
Three local high school softball players are being rewarded for their hard work this past season. Newnan seniors Lindsay Stewart, and Chaycie Goggins and East Coweta senior Kia Smith will don high school softball uniforms one last time Saturday when they participate in the Georgia Dugout Club Senior All-State Game at LaGrange College.
The trio of local players will play for the Region 3 and 4 squad after being nominated by their coaches and then selected by a region committee.
Tournament director and ECHS teacher Matt East, who is also a LaGrange College graduate assistant oversaw the process.
“We had over 300 players nominated,” said East. “We sometimes had a hard time deciding who to pick because we had so many great players nominated.”
The All-Classifcation Region 3-4 squad is one of four teams who will play a three-game round-robin format starting at 9 a.m.
The Lady Cougars finished 2013 with a program-best 25 victories with Stewart and Goggins dominating the left side of the infield at third base and shortstop, respectively. After finishing second out of Region 3-AAAAAA, Newnan earned its first trip to the Elite 8 in Columbus since 2010.
Smith was a four-year starter for the 3-AAAAAA champion Lady Indians. This past season, the senior second baseman helped East Coweta to a 26-10 record and a trip to the Sweet 16.
The Region 3-4 squad will open play against the Region 1-2 all-stars.
Their second game is against Region 5-6 , and it will conclude the all-star weekend against against Region 7-8.
Stewart was selected to participate in the all-star game after batting a team leading .406 with 31 RBIs and smacking two home runs. She also had 43 base hits, including 10 doubles and two triples.
Goggins comes into the all-star game after hitting .351.
Goggins missed nearly two weeks late in the season because of appendicitis.
However, she bounced back quickly during the state tournament. Her home run in the third-and deciding game against Colquitt in the first-round of the Class AAAAA state tournament gave the Lady Cougars a 1-0 victory and sent them to the Sweet 16.
Goggins finished the season with six home runs and 22 RBIs. She also finished with 33 hits, including nine doubles and two triples.
“It’s a great way for them to wrap up their senior year,” Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore said. “We are really proud of them Winning was important to them. They were great competitors, especially this year getting us back to the Elite 8.”
The Newnan coach hopes some of their hard work rubs off on the returning players.
“The other players definitely look up to them,” she said.
Smith hit .478 for the Lady Indians with 32 stolen bases.
“I have said it many times before, but I think she might be the best second baseman in the state. She gets to balls you would think there was no way she could get to.” East Coweta head coach Franklin Deloach said.
Smith began her career on the JV team, but joined the varsity early in her sophomore year and has never looked back.
“We tried several different players at second,” Deloach said. “We never could find that one right fit. She was down on the JV team and (Coach Brandon) Blair kept telling us about her. We brought her up and she started ever since.”
Her ability to get on an steal bases was her biggest assets.
“We knew if we could get her over to second, and then over to third, she had a pretty good chance to score,” Deloach said.
This is the fifth year the Georgia Dugout Club has sponsored an All-State softball game.
“It gives the players on last chance to represent their high schools,” East said. “About half the girls have already signed scholarships, but it also gives some of the other players the chance to show what they can do.”
The former East Coweta coach says one of the best things about the tournament is it brings players who have been rivals for four years and puts them on the same team.
“Lindsay, Chaycie and Kia have been beating up on each other for four years, but for this weekend, they will play on the same team,” East said.