High School Softball

Late HR, miscues spoil Newnan's debut

by Doug Gorman

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Maysen Willard squeezes her glove for a putout at first base during Tuesday's season opener against Starr's Mill. 

Newnan's softball season certainly didn't start the way head coach Carrie Gilmore hoped it would on Tuesday at home against Starr's Mill.

While the chemistry of a roster that lost key seniors to graduation looked strong, it was a combination of errors and a lack of timely hits that spoiled the Lady Cougars' hopes against the visiting Lady Panthers.

Starr's Mill clawed back for two runs on two hits in the top of the seventh for a 5-4 victory in an opener that saw four lead changes.

'We are really glad to be able to come out here and play again as a team,' Gilmore said. 'The girls all get along, and it is a lot of fun. It definitely didn't start the way we wanted to. We have seen a lot better things in practice, but it's early in the season.'

Needing three outs to seal a win, Newnan couldn't hang on to a one-run lead in the final inning.

Natalie Orcutt led off the seventh inning with a base hit for Starr's Mill and Sarah Flanders later followed by ripped a home run with one out to give the Lady Panthers the lead for good.

Any hopes for a comeback ended with Starr's Mill pitcher Alysen Febrey, who sat the Lady Cougars down in order including a strikeout to end the game.

Gilmore said the problems from Tuesday's opener, however, are correctable.

'I think it comes down to game situations, and how we react,' she said. 'We have to get better too with pitch selections.'

Newnan built a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Sarah Vallery drew a walk to start the game and later scored on a wild pitch.

The initial lead didn't last, as Starr's Mill put together the first of its two rallies in the second inning when Shelby Daniel tripled and Morgan Phillips reached on an error. Both runners later scored to put the Lady Panthers up 2-1.

Orcutt extended the Starr's Mill lead to 3-1 in the top of the third when she singled and scored after Daniel reached on an error.

The Lady Panthers had a chance to do more damage in the inning, but Newnan senior pitcher Tori Loveless was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam.

Newnan kept the momentum by pushing ahead with consecutive runs in the third and fourth innings.

Loveless drew a walk in the third and shortstop Jamia Berry eventually drove her in with a game-tying RBI.

The Lady Cougars then took advantage of control problems and a Starr's Mill error to walk the bases full in the bottom of the fourth. It proved costly for the Lady Panthers who walked in two runs, including Katelin Richards with the go-ahead. to gave the Lady Cougars their final lead of the game.

The Lady Cougars went into the game without Hannah Scarbrough and Chasity Meadows who are both battling injuries.

'I don't know if it would have made a difference out here today, but it would have been nice to have them in the lineup,' Gilmore said.

Gilmore did come out of the game pleased with the way Berry played at shortstop. The junior made some key defensive players throughout the contest.

Newnan is trying to replace Times Herald All-County standout Chaycie Goggins at shortstop while entering the year with at least four players capable of filling the role.

'Shortstop is one of the spots we have to fill, and she is one of the options,' Gilmore said.

The Lady Cougars don't have too much time to dwell on the loss. The squad takes on the LaGrange today and plays in the Georgia Dugout Club Tournament this weekend.

'That's always a really good tournament,' she said. 'We should see some good competition.'

STARR'S MILL 5, NEWNAN 4 Starr's Mill 021 000 2-5 8 3 Newnan 102 200 0-4 4 5



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