By R. Alan Richardson
Our Lady Dogs had a very busy week hosting the 8-AAA Region Tournament on Tuesday and Thursday. The girls played five games in three days, but came up one game short of a region championship in the finals. They will move on as the second place seed and host Sonoraville High School who are the third seed out of 6-AAA. Game times for the best of three series are Wednesday October 12 at 5:00 and 7:00. If necessary, they will play a tiebreaker third game on Thursday at 5:30. Behind the strong arm of Ansley Dean, who pitched all five games in the tournament, Morgan County started out with a big win over Jackson County 7-3. The loss sent Jackson to the losers’ bracket where they defeated Franklin County (number two seed) to eliminate Franklin and put them at the four seed. At this point it came down to three teams to decide the eventual champions. Sarah Couch had three hits and scored two runs to lead the way in the first game offensively while Dean gave up a miniscule seven hits behind some strong defense. She struck out the side in the second inning while walking only one batter for the seven innings she worked. Game two on Tuesday in the winners’ bracket pitted the Ladies against East Jackson and it was a good one. Dean again was in the circle for the Dogs, but the seventh inning was the clincher for the Panthers. With the score tied 1-1 going into the last at bat for both teams, East Jackson scored four runs in the top of the inning to make the score 5-1 off of a three-run homer, two doubles, and two singles to take the lead. Morgan fought back in their final hoorah when Alisha Ellis blasted a two RBI dinger over the left field fence. However, it was not to be as that was all the home team could muster. The final was 5-3. Now the Ladies would have to win three straight out of the losers’ bracket to take home back-to-back region titles. Morgan won in their last at bat the next two games. It was exciting to watch from the dugout as our team came back from a 4-1 deficit in game three to defeat and eliminate Jackson County. Dean was phenomenal in the last two innings shutting down the Lady Panthers, but the bats woke up to win the game. In the sixth it was Dean who started things off with a double. Her pinch runner eventually scored on a squeeze play. Maddie Kinnett drew a walk that was followed by an error on Bryanna Mims bouncer to the pitcher. Couch came up big with a triple to tie the game at 4-4. In their final last gasp to win the game in the bottom of the seventh, Elizabeth Couch singled to lead off the inning and then stole second. With two outs and the team looking at extra innings, Madison Henry ripped one into the outfield that scored a sliding Couch for the 5-4 win. Morgan would now have to win two straight vs. East Jackson and they almost did it. The first game went extra innings with the Diamond Dogs winning in dynamic fashion to force a second game that would determine the 8-AAA Region Champs. It was a doozy. After missing out on some early inning scoring opportunities, the girls trailed 2-0 going into the sixth. Couch, who had a great tournament at the plate, started a rally with a single. Ellis followed her up with a double down the left field line. Webb drove in Couch with a sac fly, Dean singled, and Henry reached base on an error for three runs to take a 3-2 lead. In the same inning East Jackson’s leadoff hitter homered to left center to tie the game. The game again went nine innings with Ellis, Henry, and Couch being the heroes in their final at bat. It came down to one game in the championship bracket. How good is 8-AAA softball and how balanced is it? Well, Franklin County is our number four seed and they are ranked in the top five in the state. Morgan and East Jackson are ranked in the top five while Jackson is up there as well. For the Lady Dogs, and especially Dean, it was gut-check time and did they ever show up! It was tight from start-to-finish, but the early innings for the Lady Eagles were too much for Morgan to overcome. East Jackson scored one in the first and three in the third capped off by a two RBI double that sealed the deal. Morgan got one in the first as Couch singled, stole second and third before scoring. We added one more in the fourth and in the sixth when Webb and Ellis came across the plate. This time there was no magic left for the miracle team. They fell 4-3 to an excellent team. Morgan will travel to Columbus in about two weeks for all the marbles as the number two seed.