Region Tourney This best-of-three series will take place Monday, Oct.7, time TBA. We will post the time on the Morgan County Citizen’s Facebook page, as soon as it is announced.
By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer
The Morgan County High School (MCHS) varsity softball team picked up three big wins against region opponents Hart County and North Oconee and non-region opponent Eastside in the week leading up to the beginning of the 8-AAA region tournament.
As of Tuesday, the Lady Dogs’ record for the 2013 season was 19-8 overall and 9-4 in the region. They have already earned the third spot in the region, which will allow them to bypass the first round of the tournament, which takes place this Saturday, Oct. 5.
The Lady Dogs will host a best of three series next Monday, Oct. 7, at Heritage Park. The opponent has not yet been decided. The winner of that series will advance to the Region Tournament Final Four and earn a spot in the state playoffs.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Dogs hosted region opponent North Oconee, whom they beat 12-11.
North Oconee took a commanding 7-2 lead in the top of the second inning, but Hayden Massey came in to pitch in relief during the third inning was able to keep North Oconee in place through the fifth inning while the Lady Dogs had a chance to catch up.
A run in the third inning narrowed the gap to 3-7 before the Dogs put three more on in the bottom of the fourth to trail by a single run. Carly Hodgson earned the first run in the fourth, scoring on a passed ball, and Aubree Cox drove in the other two with a two-RBI double.
The Dogs then had a six-run inning in the fifth to go ahead 12-7. The offensive boom came from a combination of small ball tactics and big hits; Hodgson, Hannah Carver, and Ashley Backus all bunted during the inning to advance runners, while Alishia Frierson and Laney Crawford hit back-to-back doubles, and Cox hit an RBI triple, which led to her own scoring on an error.
North Oconee belted a three-run homer in the top of the sixth to set the score at 12-10 and managed an additional run in the seventh, fixing the final score at 12-11 for a narrow Lady Dog victory.
“I think our girls have learned that, with our offense, we are never out of a game,” said MCHS Head Coach Doug Connelly. “We just talked about pecking away at the lead and holding them at bay by playing good defense.”
The Dogs beat Hart County 10-6 in Hartwell last Thursday in what Coach Connelly described as “a see-saw affair.”
After allowing a single Morgan County run in the top of the first, Hart County drove in four runs in the inning to take the lead, but the Lady Dogs busted four runs of their own in the second to move back ahead 5-4 with RBIs from Frierson, Crawford, and Cox.
Hart evened the score at 5-5 in the bottom of the second, and the score would remain there through the fifth inning.
The sixth saw another four-run inning for the Dogs, who had three runners score on a throwing error to home before Cox hit an RBI double to make the score 9-5.
Both teams added a run in the seventh to make the final score 10-6. Alishia Frierson pitched a complete game for the Dogs and racked up a season-high seven strikouts.
“I was very proud of our girls for settling down after the first two innings,” said Coach Connelly. “We didn’t handle such adversity so well earlier in the season.”
The 5-2 win over Eastside on Monday, Sept. 30, came on only five hits for the Lady Dogs, showing a remarkable level of efficiency with turning runs into hits.
Laree Van Orden drove in Frierson, who had walked, during the first inning with an RBI single, but Eastside matched the Dogs’ score in the bottom of the first.
The score remained the same until the fourth, but the Dogs added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to give them a 3-1 lead, which they would never relinquish.
Cox hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth, and an RBI single came off of the bat of Carver to give the Dogs their final two runs.
Eastside put just one more run on the board in the sixth, and the final score of the non-region game ended 5-2.
Frierson pitched the first three innings of the game for the Lady Dogs, with Massey coming in to finish the game. Each only gave up one run during their time on the mound.
“While the hitting against Eastside was not as productive as we would like, I was pleased to see us get a win behind good defense and good pitching,” said Connelly. “As we enter the postseason, we’re going to have to be able to win some ball games like that if we want to reach our long-term goals.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Lady Dogs played their final game of the regular season against region opponent East Jackson at home.
The times for the best-of-three region tournament games that will take place next Monday, Oct. 7 at home will be posted on the Morgan County Citizen’s Facebook site as soon as they are set.