Christian Heritage School Lions

October 9, 2013

Area roundup: North Murray softball earns return trip to state playoffs

North Murray High School’s softball team was three games under .500 at the close of the regular season, but the only record that matters now is the Lady Mountaineers’ 3-1 mark in the Region 5-3A tournament.

Led by a group of hitters who have found their stroke, North Murray (15-16) beat Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 8-2 on Tuesday night at Hamilton Crossing in Adairsville to clinch a top-four finish in the region and with it a berth in the Class 3A state playoffs, which start next week. The Lady Mountaineers then beat Sonoraville 5-2 in the losers’ bracket semifinal to assure themselves no worse than a No. 3 seed for state.

Also at the tournament, Coahulla Creek’s season ended with a 3-0 loss to Sonoraville in the second round of the losers’ bracket.

North Murray coach Steve Granger, who is in his first year leading the program, said others might have doubted his team after the regular season, but his players have used that in a positive way.

“I think a lot of that is motivation,” Granger said. “Thinking they are the underdog, we don’t have anything to lose. People didn’t think that we deserved to be in the state playoffs, and we have used that and it has paid off. We are going to keep using that mentality throughout the playoffs.”

This is the third straight season North Murray has made the state playoffs. The Lady Mountaineers were Region 5-3A’s No. 3 seed last season, when they entered state with a 12-16 record. They were Region 7-2A’s No. 4 seed in 2011, when they entered state just four games above .500 at 16-12.

Against LFO on Tuesday, North Murray’s Megan Pittman had a solo homer as part of her 2-for-3 effort, while Amber Bandy was 3-for-4 with a double and Sarah Silvers and Kaitlin Epps each had a pair of RBIs. Kara Deal contributed a pair of hits in addition to pitching a complete game, allowing five hits and no earned runs.

The hitting continued in the second game, with Pittman going 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a pair of runs scored. Baylee Sutton added a two-run homer and drove in three while going 2-for-4. Deal was 3-for-4 at the plate and again went the distance in the circle, allowing four hits.

“I can’t say enough about Kara coming in and pitching 14 innings,” Granger said. “I know they say those girls can pitch all day long, but that is still tough.

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