By R. Alan Richardson
No excuses were made by anyone, but the Lady Dog softball team did not get the best of brackets going into Columbus and the State Tournament. They took care of first round opponent Southeast Bulloch 9-0 in a shortened game behind the arm of Ansley Dean, but then had to face region arch-rival East Jackson in the second game of the winner’s bracket. East Jackson pulled out a region championship against the Dogs just a few days earlier in a two of three series 2-1. This one would be just as close with the Lady Eagles pulling out a 4-3 win in the bottom of the seventh inning. Unfortunately, the girls had to face Calhoun in the next round of the loser’s bracket and took a 7-3 loss to end their season. Calhoun played East Jackson for the State Title and East Jackson took the trophy home. Morgan finished fifth, but lost to the number one and two teams in the state and was definitely in the top three teams to compete. It just didn’t work out in their favor.
First year head coach Jason McBay came in with big shoes to fill behind Doug Connelly. He did an admirable job with that on his back. He said, “This season has been one of the most memorable seasons of my career. I have never had a team completely embrace my style like this one. Through ups like Senior Night and the Sonoraville series to downs like Franklin County and game one against Pierce County their love for each other and their belief in me as their coach has been unwavering. On Saturday, eight teams held up a banner that read “state champions” but I would not want to coach any of those teams over ours. Our girls proudly wear their banners every day, some say “never quit”, “fearless”, “brave”, “and loyal”. They don’t need a ring, scoreboard, or banner to tell them what we already know… They are all ‘more than conquerors in my opinion. If it be God’s will, I hope my three daughters grow up to be just like them. These seven seniors and this 2016 team will never be forgotten.”
Against South Bulloch, the entire squad contributed offensively behind Dean with the big win. Game two saw Morgan score two runs in the fifth on back-to-back-to-back singles by Henry, Walker, and Chandler after falling behind in the third. East Jackson had scored three in that frame and now had a 3-2 lead. The Diamond Dogs evened things up in the 6th when Liz Couch singled in Alissa Webb after she singled and stole two bases. However, it was in their last at-bat that East Jackson manufactured a game-winning run to put Morgan in the loser’s bracket to face Calhoun. Their program has been in the forefront of girls’ softball for many years and gave our team all they could handle.
Morgan took first blood by scoring three in the first, but Calhoun answered back. Sarah Couch drew a walk and proceeded to steal second and third. Webb singled her in and also stole two consecutive bases before Elizabeth Couch hit a booming homerun to take the 3-0 lead. Calhoun wasn’t about to quit after having been there before. They scored three runs playing small ball to tie the score 3-3 at the end of the first.
That was as close as it would get. Calhoun tacked on three more runs in the second with a single and back-to-back homeruns to take a lead they would never relinquish. They added another in the fourth for the final score of 7-3 to eliminate our girls.