By R. Alan Richardson
MacKenzie Torbush had the game of her life to help give the Lady Diamond Dogs a huge Region 8AAA win over Franklin County 5-4 with a starting lineup that was missing three players. Her line drive homerun in the fifth inning to centerfield hit the ice cream truck out by the Kennel to tie the game at 4-4. Her next at-bat came in the bottom of the seventh when her infield hit drove in Alissa Webb for the winning run. It was an exciting finish.
The three players out for the game included starting shortstop Webb with a wrist injury, starting catcher Madison Henry out with a knee injury, and starting leftfielder Hannah Callaway with a shoulder injury. Coach Jason McBay put together a band aid lineup that scrapped and clawed their way to the win. He and his staff did an excellent job of inserting players into the lineup that came up big in their new-found roles. One example came in the second inning when catch Maeson Tanner picked up a bunt and fired to first for the out. Left fielder Sara Peppers alertly covered an open third base for the throw to nab the other runner trying to take an extra base.
The Lady Dogs got on the board first with a run in the second inning. Dakota Cepuran got things going with a resounding double to right center, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a passed ball for the 1-0 lead.
Franklin got an unearned run off Bailey Nix in the third on three Morgan infield errors that knotted the game at 1-1. MOCO came back to score two more runs in their half of the inning. Jenna Lyons reached base on a bunt single and then stole second. Zoey Brown singled to left to put runners at the corners when Reign Williams hit a fly ball to right center. It was a tough play for Franklin, but probably should have been caught. The ball came out and two runs scored to put things at 3-1 Morgan.
Franklin got a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take the lead again at 4-3. It might have been worse if the Dogs hadn’t pulled off a pickoff play in the inning. In the bottom of the inning is when Torbush started her heroics. Her homer with two outs brought the Dogs back to life and tied the game at 4-4.
Neither team put a run up in the sixth. It came down to a last at-bat effort for Morgan. I’m not sure if McBay is part sooth sayer, fortune teller, or snake-handler. His rousing speech to the team predicted exactly what was about to transpire. With one out Brown singled to right field. Even though Webb couldn’t hit or play the field, she was still available to pinch run, and she can fly. She stole second to put the winning run in scoring position. Franklin County then smartly put Williams on with an intentional walk to face the freshman Avery Kinnett. All she did in the clutch was rip a single up the middle, but the outfield was pulled in. Webb would have been dead at the plate if she had tried to score. So, who comes to the plate? Torbush, of course. Her infield single was enough to push Webb across for the win in dramatic fashion. It was one of the better games you’ll see.
To make things even more impressive for Torbush was that she hit the homerun from the left side and the walk-off hit from the right. Not only that, but she covers more ground in centerfield than kudzu does in Buckhead. She said, “After the homerun I felt like a huge weight had just been lifted off my shoulders because I had been in a slump. It really helped boost my confidence in my ability at the plate. When I drove Webb in to walk-off the game I was extremely happy. It was a very big win for my team. Franklin is a very good opponent and to beat them boosted all of our team’s confidence. Bailey Nix pitched a great game. So far this season she has done incredibly well. Sara Peppers really stepped up and did a great job in left field. Our team never gave up in that game and kept fighting. I’m very proud to be a part of a team like that.”