Garner’s No-No spoiled on final out
By R. Alan Richardson
A season opener. A home opener. Months without sports. Beautiful August weather (for a while), Finally…MCHS plays ball on the diamond once again. What else could you ask for? A win? Absolutely. And that’s exactly what the Lady Diamond Dogs softball club got. A win in the home opener against former Region 8-AAA rival East Jackson 4-0 was just what the coronavirus doctor ordered.
MOCO got off to a great start to the 2020 season with the victory in a three-team triple-header that wasn’t cut short by a virus threat. It was cut off by a torrential downpour that Noah would have been proud of. Fortunately, it didn’t come until after the Lady Dogs got the first of their two games in with the Lady Eagles and took the “W” for the first win of the season. Hopefully, many more will come. A cloud currently surrounds the playing of fall sports. More news on the status of the GHSA’s decisions will be forthcoming.
Emma Garner got the call in the circle from Coach Jason McBay and did she ever deliver. Behind some stellar defensive play on the part of the Dogs, the junior starter went 20 outs (6 2/3 innings) before giving up a hit. With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Garner was just one out away from a no-hitter in only her first outing as a Bulldog starter. A bleeding and dying quail blooper into short centerfield had trouble written all over it when it left the bat. Shortstop Avery Kinnett made a reaching effort that just fell off the tip of her glove. It was an ice cream coner for sure. Garner finished off the next batter on an easy grounder to second baseman Parker Spain to end the game and a one-hit shutout. Her line for the game included one strikeout and only one free pass. Only three runners reached base, but not until the fourth inning on a walk. The one walk, the final single, and an error produced those three runners.
The defense was led by junior second baseman Parker Spain who made a number of solid plays in the field. She covered ground to first on bunts and grounders in a way that Joe Morgan would have been proud of. Offensively the Dogs were led by freshman centerfielder Anna Kate Hill who went 2-3 and scored a run, Spain who went 2-3 and scored a run, Leah Spain 1-3 with a run scored, and Garner who went 1-3 and scored a run to help her own cause.
Morgan didn’t get on the board until the fourth inning when P. Spain hit a laser that looked like it was leaving the building but hit the left field fence on the fly. Her double was followed up by back-to-back sacrifices to give the Dogs the 1-0 lead with the RBI going to freshman first baseman Ryan Henderson. Morgan got three insurance runs in the fifth after another freshman, left fielder Leah Spain, singled to lead off the inning. She stole second, moved to third on a bunt single by Hill, and scored when Garner got the RBI on another bunt. Hill also stole second as did Garner after Hill moved to third. Both runners scored on Parker Spain’s single.
McBay graded his team this way after their first outing saying, “Emma (Garner) is a competitor. She battles at the plate, works hard in the circle and plays a great third base. I think you saw a pitcher completely confident that the other eight had her back. It was a great performance to watch. She loves the game and loves to compete. It looked like our defense behind her might be a strength of this team. It’s what we have worked hardest at in periods of practice. I think this bunch takes pride in it. Parker (Spain) loves the game and her teammates. She’s probably one of our hardest workers and is growing into a complete person on and off the field. I was most proud of her defense and how she, Ryan (Henderson at first base), and Emma (Garner on the mound) navigated those ‘tweener’ balls to the right side.”
The Lady Diamond Dogs played a home game with Monticello after our deadline. The results will be included in next week’s issue. They will play at Alcovy Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. and will return home to play the Hart County Lady Dogs Aug. 14 at 4:30 p.m.
MOCO’s JV softball squad opened their season Aug. 12 and Morgan County’s middle school team cranked up Aug. 11 at Youth. Game reports will be seen next week. That should give us a good picture of where we are. They are a great team. Our home opener is scheduled for Aug. 29. We’re anticipating having a good field of competitors for that one.
“The kids are in super shape right now and ready to go. We are all looking forward to running in the new region and hosting the region meet. We need to start looking into the new region and our opponents. We are already being contacted by other schools about our first home meet later this month. It’s just a super exciting time for everyone involved,” said Johnson.