By R. Alan Richardson
Miss Irma put a big damper on sports action earlier in the week, but she couldn’t stop the MOCO softball team from playing six games over a three-day span over the weekend. From Thursday through Saturday it was nonstop play at Morgan’s home field as well as Bill Wood Park.
The Lady Dogs played host to 8-AAA region foe East Jackson Thursday and followed that up with the Lady Dog Invitational Friday and Saturday. 16 teams visited Madison to compete in a pool play format that ended with four champions being crowned in each of the four divisions; Diamond, Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
Weekend tournament action had the team going 2-3 with wins over Jackson High School 11-10 and Duluth 10-7. Losses came at the hands of Villa Rica 7-3, Union County 3-2, and Pierce County 7-1. The scores show how close and competitive all these games were for Morgan, but it was the Jackson win in dramatic fashion that highlighted the play of the Lady Dogs. This was one for the ages.
Jackson took first blood scoring three in the first inning, but Morgan answered in their at bat when Hannah Callaway singled to lead off the inning and stole second. Madison Henry has been on an offensive tear of late. She continued that trend with a double and RBI to score Callaway. Henry scored later in the inning when Mary Trent Chandler singled to drive in the second run for a 3-2 score. Jackson stayed hot at the plate in the second pushing two more runs across. The Lady Dogs added two more runs to their total in the inning when MacKenzie Torbush got a one out single that was immediately followed up by a Maeson Tanner single and Callaway’s double. Sadie Worth singled home Callaway to make the score 6-4 after two innings of play.
The Lady Red Devils exploded for four more runs in the third to take a 10-4 lead, but Morgan chipped away with two runs scoring in their half of the inning. Chandler got her second hit of the game to lead off the third and crossed home on a Jackson error. Gracie Williams then scored after a walk to make it 10-6. Both teams went scoreless in the fourth.
The fireworks started in the final inning with two outs and nobody on base. It looked like the Ladies were dead and gone; going home with a loss, but the team never gave in. With the circumstances looking dire, three successive singles by Torbush, Tanner, and Callaway loaded the bases for the hottest hitter in town. And did she deliver! Henry came to the plate and gassed a deep homerun shot to tie the score at 10-10. The dugout, coaches, and fans exploded but the heart stopper was far from over. Worth continued the unlikely rally with a single and Chandler walked. This brought freshman Reign Williams to the plate. She promptly doubled to the fence for a walk-off hit that gave the Lady Dogs one of the greatest comeback wins ever witnessed by MOCO fans 11-10.
In Thursday’s matchup the home team came up short in 8-AAA action to East Jackson 14-5, but the game was closer than the score indicated. The Lady Eagles are coming off an AAA State Championship, but lost five starters from that team. They still have a solid group with several returnees in the lineup. According to EJ’s coach, the difference in his team from a year ago may be in experienced pitching. He said, “We got a little spoiled last year. Our games are now going three hours or more as teams are scoring more runs against us.”
Starting pitcher, Alissa Webb, was injured in the first inning and did not return. Katee Finney came on in relief as did McKenna Camp and Maeson Tanner. East Jackson got three runs in the second while the Dogs answered back in the bottom half of the inning on a strange play that rarely occurs. Sadie Worth was called out on strikes, but the pitch got away from the catcher giving Worth a free pass. She scored after a sac bunt by Reign Williams and two wild pitches. Morgan then tied the game in the third. Mary Trent Chandler singled and pinch runner Gracie Williams stole second. Hannah Callaway also singled to score Williams. Callaway scored on a sac bunt by Dakota Cepuran. Morgan did score two more in the sixth when leadoff batter Madison Henry hit a towering homerun to center. They got another in the inning when pinch hitter Karlie Lane reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on two consecutive singles by MacKenzie Torbush and Chandler. However, the Eagles put it away with five runs in the fourth, three in the sixth, and three more in the seventh.
Assistant Coach Billy Dooley made these comments about this year’s team and the tournament. “Obviously we would like to go 5-0 in our own tournament but we feel like 2-3 against some good competition was a good weekend. Villa Rica and Pierce County are two teams that should make a push for Columbus this year. We have great kids that work hard. They are fun to coach. They love each other and genuinely want their teammates to be successful. Records don’t always tell the whole story of a season. These young ladies are getting better each day with the little things that will make them successful in the long run……hard work, perseverance and communication. Those traits will go a long way for them in life. Hard work is its own reward, but I would love for the hard work to translate into some wins and into the state playoffs!! It would be a great testament to these girls for all the time they put in with each other.”