By R. Alan Richardson
The MOCO Diamond Lady Dogs put up a valiant effort in the Region 8-AAA Tournament this week, but came up short against Jackson County and Jefferson. The losses gave them a fourth place seed going into this week’s State Playoffs where they will face off with The Lovett School. Lovett is the number one seed coming out of 5-AAA with a Region record of 9-1 and 18-3 overall for 2018. With Lovett, Westminster, and Pace Academy (all private schools) leading the pack from their Region, the Lady Dogs will need to gear up for a tough series. Most prognosticators give our girls a great chance of pulling off a win as 5-AAA has not always been known as a softball powerhouse. Westminster finished 12-7 overall while Pace was only 13-9. Can the Lady Dogs deliver on the road? You bet they can if they play their best brand of Jason McBay softball. The latest rankings on MaxPreps.com have Lovett’s Lady Lions ranked as the number two team in the State in AAA.
As the number three seed going into the Region Tournament, the Lady Dogs went up against a tough Jackson County team. This was a team looking for a repeat of last season’s AAA State Championship after losing only one player off that team. They finished second behind Jefferson’s Lady Dragons with an 8-3 Region mark and 17-11 for the season.
This one turned out to be a defensive battle with the hometown team losing 3-1. McKenna Camp started the game in the circle, but only faced one batter. After a single by the leadoff batter, Bailey Nix came on to finish out the contest. A sacrifice bunt and a single to left field led to a one-run lead for the Lady Panthers up until the fourth inning when MOCO tied the game 1-1.
Reign Williams drew a walk to start the rally and was sacrificed to second by Zoey Brown. Avery Kinnett drew another walk and McKenzie Torbush doubled in Williams with the only RBI of the game for the Dogs.
Nix had another strong outing, but a two-run homer in the fifth proved too much for the team to overcome. Alissa Webb almost robbed Jackson County of those two runs when she timed the ball perfectly over the fence, but came up inches short and empty. The damage in the inning could have been worse if not for another Webb defensive gem in centerfield. With runners on first and second, she dove flat out to make one heck of a play for the third out of the inning. Williams also made an outstanding play at third with runners in scoring position in the third inning. Her final out catch kept Jackson County off the board when she stretched and dove to her right in foul territory to finish off the inning.
The Dogs didn’t get much of a break in the second outing after Franklin County “upset” number one seed Jefferson 9-0. That put them up against Jefferson for the nightcap. Last year’s AAAA All-State pitcher, Emily Perrin, held MOCO scoreless for four stanzas before giving way to relief. The final was 10-2.
Jefferson put up five runs in the second inning with four singles and a double to make it 5-0. With the Dogs trailing 8-0 in the fourth and facing run-rule elimination, Morgan bounced back in the fifth to give them some life, but it wasn’t enough. Pinch hitters Karlie Lane and Emma Garrison each reached base with singles before Webb brought in Lane with a single and Williams doubled to bring in Garrison. Sarah Ellen Mercer came on in relief in the second inning for an obviously gassed Nix and did an outstanding job in the circle for the remainder of the game.
The Dogs were scheduled to travel to Lovett on Wednesday. However, due to weather predictions of intense rain, the games were moved up to Tuesday. Details of those games will be in next week’s issue of the Morgan County Citizen.