By R. Alan Richardson
Unless you’ve been living in a cave on the outskirts of Godfrey for the past many years, you already know about the two decades of success that the Morgan County High School softball teams have achieved over that span of time. From Steve Cisson, to Anne Stamps, to Doug Connelly, and now to Jason McBay, this program has been a force at the regional and state level for many years.
This year’s team is showing the same resiliency that past teams have shown under first-year head coach McBay. They are sporting an overall record of 8-4 against stiff competition and a 3-1 region 8-AAA record in one of the toughest softball regions in the state. There are at least 3-4 teams that are ranked in the top ten at this point so it’s no picnic every time they hit the diamond.
On Thursday of last week the girls took a nail-biter from Jackson County in their final at-bat 3-2. It was a big region win for the Lady Dogs with both teams tied at 2-1 in region play. Jackson struck big in the first inning off a single and a homerun with two outs to take the lead, but Morgan cut into the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Sarah Couch led off the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Alisha Ellis. With two outs, Liz Couch singled to drive in Ellis for the 2-1 deficit.
The next five innings were a defensive and pitching duel. After giving up two runs in the first, starting pitcher Ansley Dean settled in with great location and held the Lady Panthers scoreless through the remainder of the game. Jackson County’s pitcher shut down the Lady Dogs as well and things went status quo during the middle innings. Morgan got runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, but just couldn’t quite find a way to put a runner across in those situations.
However, this never-say-die team went into the final half of the last inning and found a way. A lead-off fly out put the team in somewhat of a hole, but the top of the lineup came through. Sarah Couch slapped a single and then stole second base. The ensuing throwing error allowed her to take third with Ellis at the plate. She promptly hit a laser to left field that resulted in a double to score Couch making the score 2-2. This ensured our girls of extra innings at the least. They didn’t need it. Elizabeth Couch stepped up to the plate with two outs and ripped one into left field for the single and the walk-off winning hit. It was pandemonium in the dugout as the team celebrated the 3-2 win.
Coach McBay had these words about the game, “I’m so proud of our girls for finding a way to win tonight. We weren’t at our best but still fought tooth and nail to the very end. I was also very proud of Dean’s effort to shut them down after the first. Our defense really stepped it up when we needed it. All of our seniors led by example when we needed it most. Sarah gets the hit to start it, steals second, Ellis doubles in the gap, and Liz with the game winner. These girls are clutch and they came thru for us.” The two Couch girls accounted for two of the three runs with Sarah scoring twice and Liz with two RBI’s while Dean pitched a gem of a game.
Note: The Lady Dogs brought the little dogs out from their Little Dogs camp back in June to join them at a game on Tuesday. They hung out in the dugout before the game, said the prayer with them, and repeated the “Lady Dog” Creed with them. Then, when they announced the starting lineups, the campers got to run on the field with their favorite player and stand by them during the national anthem.