By Zachary Parker Staff Writer
An exciting season ends for Morgan County High School’s Volleyball Team. The Morgan County High Volleyball team lost to Savannah Arts Academy last week, ending their run in State Playoffs and their 2014 season. Gaining a 16-9 lead in the first set, the Morgan County Spikedogs became, as Coach Paul Busenitz described, a little too complacent. “They stopped communicating like they should have,” said Coach Busenitz. “We were out of rhythm.” Having beaten Morgan County 25-23 in the first set, Savanah Arts picked up right where they left off and took an early lead in the second. After a few crucial service errors, Morgan County lost the set 18-25. After a break, Morgan County came back on the court to take a quick 9-3 lead before the Savannah team began to chip away at their defense. Missing an opportunity to win set point, the Spikedogs lost three points in a row to lose 24-26. Riley Moss and Rosa Cox had a good match according to the coaching staff, with Moss making big blocks and very few errors, and Cox doing a great job of passing. Coach Busenitz said that he was sad to see the season end, but looks forward to next year. “We are losing seven seniors this year, girls with a lot of talent and experience, and I’ll be sad to see them go,” said Busenitz. “We do have a couple of younger players who are looking good, and who hopefully can take example from this season and lead the team next year.” rifice bunt which was missed by the batter. Catcher Leah Malcom threw behind the runner to Hannah Carver, who was covering first base. Carver tagged to the runner out to squash the Central leadoff threat. The Lady Dogs were unable to generate any offense in the top of the 7th. In the bottom of the inning with the game still tied at two, Central was once again able to get its first batter of the inning on base, this time in the form of a leadoff double. The next batter grounded softly back to the pitcher, which allowed the runner on second to advance to third. The next batter hit a fly ball that carried center fielder Sarah Couch back a couple of steps. Couch caught the ball and threw it perfectly, but the Central runner narrowly beat the throw to the plate for the deciding run. “This was a well played softball game by both sides. If you are just a fan of softball and don’t have a dog in the fight, this was a fun game to watch. Both teams played the game the way it is supposed to be played – outstanding defense, good pitching, situational execution, and timely hitting. This is the type of game the 2nd round of the playoffs should produce. “Our girls played extremely hard from start to finish. Every time we got behind, the girls bowed their backs and answered right back,” said Connelly. In the second game of the double header, facing tournament elimination, the Lady Dogs responded well after the tough loss in game one. In the end, however, the Carrolton Central offense heated up, producing 7 runs and proving to be too much for the Lady Dogs to overcome. After two innings of play, Hayden Massey and Carrolton Central pitcher, Taylor Funk, picked up where they left off and game two once again seemed to be heading for another pitching and defensive duel. Per GHSA rules, Central served as the visiting team in game 2 and got on the scoreboard first in their half of the 3rd inning. Central would take advantage of three hits in the inning along with a walk to bring home three runs. As they did all night, the Lady Dogs responded quickly to cut the lead to 3-1. Elizabeth Couch reached second on an error by the Central defense. Hannah Carver followed up with a single, and Alishia Frierson brought home Ansley Dean, who was pinch running for Couch Central countered the Lady Dog run with a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning. With the score now 4-1, the Lady Dogs once again proved that they would continue to fight. Alisha Ellis led off the inning with a single, and Maddie Kinnett followed with a walk. Pitcher Hayden Massey then executed a sacrifice bunt, advancing Ellis to third and Kinnett to second. Next, senior Ashley Backus executed a squeeze bunt to bring home Ellis, making the score 4-2. That would be as close as the Lady Dogs would get in game 2, however. Central scored two more runs in the 6th inning and added an insurance run in the 7th while the Lady Dogs were unable to plate another run in innings 5 through 7. The 7 – 2 loss eliminated the Lady Dogs from the State tournament and brought a very exciting and successful season to a close. The Lady Dogs finished the season with an impressive record of 25 victories and only 10 losses. After the game Coach Connelly was extremely proud of his team and their performance during the tournament and throughout the season. “The girls competed from start to finish. I couldn’t be more proud of their preparation coming in to the series and for the heart they displayed on the field against Central. This group represented our school and community well,” stated Connelly. “This team faced a lot of adversity over the course of the season. The injury report looked more like that of a football team than a softball team, but someone always seemed to step up when someone went down. This group of girls was fun to be around on a day in and day out basis. I’ll miss working with them on a daily basis. The three seniors (Ashley Backus, Hayden Massey, and Aubree Cox) will be sorely missed; they contributed so much to the chemistry of this team. You can’t put a value on all of the things they brought to the table,” said Connelly. For the second straight year, the Lady Dog softball team won 25 games and reached the sweet 16 of the state playoff tournament, a feat which hasn’t been done since the state championship teams of the early to mid 2000s. Morgan County captured the region 8-AAA regular season championship. “Overall – it was a very successful year in terms of wins and losses and team accomplishments. All of the things accomplished on the field are a testament to the hard work the group put in beginning back in May. From start to finish, this team got better; and that’s the ultimate goal for a team,” said Connelly.