For a brief time Tuesday, Southeast Whitfield High School’s softball team held the lead over powerhouse Northwest Whitfield.
After that, just about everything went the Lady Bruins’ way.
Northwest scored at least a run in each of the five innings and 13 straight from the second inning on to take a 14-2 mercy-rule victory on the road in a Sub-region 7B-4A matchup with the Lady Raiders.
Sydney Covington’s home run in the bottom of the first inning gave Southeast (4-8, 1-2) a 2-1 lead. In the next Northwest at-bat, Mallory Souther started with a double, Gabbi Helton moved her to third with an infield single and Alyssa Ward scored Souther with a bunt single. Colbie Thomas then drove in Helton with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Lady Bruins (10-0, 3-0) scored twice more in the inning — one on a Southeast error and the other coming in on Bayli Cruse’s double — to take a 5-1 lead. Northwest would go on to score two in the third inning, three in the fourth and four in the fifth, with Thomas hitting an inside-the-park solo home run, and Macy Weeks launching a three-run bomb to cap the scoring.
Northwest finished with 17 hits, and Southeast’s defense had four errors behind Kara Headrick, who pitched all five innings.
“We want them hitting it on the ground,” Lady Bruins coach Jason Brooker said. “When you hit it on the ground, they have to get there and catch it and then make the throw. On a pop-up, they just have to catch it. And our speed puts pressure on them.”
By comparison, Northwest and starting pitcher BriLeigh Baggett had trouble in the first, both before and after Covington’s home run. Baggett walked Headrick to set up Covington’s two-out shot, and walked Brooke Hasty and Emily Beck before striking out Lilly Johnson to escape the inning. She settled down and gave up no walks and allowed just two hits the rest of the game. She finished with a complete game and struck out six.
The Lady Bruins’ four-run second helped calm Baggett’s nerves the rest of the way, Thomas said.
“When you have runs on the board, it releases their nerves instantly,” she said.
“She’s good about forgetting stuff and working what she did wrong. That’s what’s good about BriLeigh.”
Northwest has won 24 straight dating to last season’s Class 4A state championship team.
Southeast, meanwhile, struggled to get outs against Northwest’s lively bats, and Lady Raiders coach Kelley Barton said a big negative of the team’s performance was the effort.
“That’s what we’re going to work on and that’s the one thing they can control,” Barton said.
She added she didn’t think her players “believed” they could beat the Lady Bruins, and that held true even after taking the first-inning lead.
“We didn’t take that as, ‘OK, we can win this game,’” Barton added. “We took it as, ‘Let’s not lose this game.’ It’s just the way we approach the game. We have to change our attitude.”
Hannah Godfrey finished 2-for-4 with three runs scored for Northwest. Cruse went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, Ashley Conner finished 2-for-4 with two runs and Mallory Souther went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
Headrick finished 1-for-2 with a walk and was the only Southeast batter to reach base multiple times.
• Coahulla Creek 5, Gordon Central 4: The Lady Colts (9-3, 4-1 Region 5-3A) spotted the Lady Warriors four runs in the top of the first inning, but responded with four in the bottom half. From there, pitcher Erin Harden had it all under control.
“We responded well,” Coahulla Creek coach Josh Swiney said. “We fought back and hit the ball hard all night. I was real proud of how they answered after that first inning. Erin is really hitting her spots, and is just in a real groove.”
Harden went to the circle in relief of Nikki Hollis and gave up just two hits in six innings while striking out 15. That was more than enough to make the run the Lady Colts scored in the bottom of the second stand for the victory. Shelbe Dilbeck, who was 2-for-4, doubled to lead off the second inning and came in on Madeleine Kalafut’s game-winning single. Kalafut and Emily Banks were both 3-for-4 with an RBI. Harden was 2-for-3 and Baylee Adkins drove in a pair of runs.
• North Murray 12, Adairsville 0, four innings: Baylee Sutton was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs as the Lady Mountaineers (2-8) captured their first Region 5-3A win in four tries this season.
“The last few games we were settling for walks more than we wanted to hit the ball,” North Murray coach Steve Granger said. “We were aggressive at the plate today and dropped the ball in some holes and scored some runs.”
Amber Bandy was 2-for-2 and Sarah Silvers had a triple and scored a pair of runs.
• Ridgeland 12, Dalton 2, five innings: Ten of Ridgeland’s 12 runs were unearned as nine errors took away any chance for Dalton (2-8, 0-3 Sub-region 7B-4A) to get a victory over the Panthers. Ridgeland only outhit the Lady Catamounts 7-5, but the errors piled the runs up.
Carson Roberts (2-for-2) was the only Dalton player with a multiple-hit performance, while Alex Brumbelow was 1-for-1 with an RBI sacrifice fly.
• Trion 5, Christian Heritage 2: Erin Leonard pitched six innings for the Lady Lions (5-10, 0-3 Sub-region 6A-A), allowed three earned runs off eight hits and one walk while striking out eight. Hannah Heath pitched the seventh inning, allowing one hit.
Halle Poteet was 2-for-4. Heath went 3-for-3. Ashlyn Clements was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
“We made a couple huge base running mistakes that hurt us when we had some opportunities to score some more runs,” Christian Heritage coach Mike Leonard said.
• Northwest beat Murray County, 25-12, 25-9, and then topped Coahulla Creek, 26-28, 25-16, 25-17, in a tri-match in Tunnel Hill.
The Lady Colts beat the Lady Indians 25-2, 25-9 in the third match.
Mary Kate Allen led the Lady Bruins (9-3) with 27 kills, six blocks and four aces, while Whitley Brooker had 34 assists, Madelyn Logan added four aces and three digs and Peyton Maret finished with eight kills.
“We were kind of off a little tonight,” Northwest coach Jennifer Quinn said. “We didn’t move well, but other than that we pulled it out at the end and that makes a difference.”
Coahulla Creek (3-13) was led by Macey Fossett, who had 31 assists, three kills and an ace. Other standout contributors for the Lady Colts were Gabrielle Henderson (13 kills, ace); Erin Orem (six kills, five aces); Nikki Ross (seven kills, four aces, three blocks); Lexi Storey (eight kills, two aces); and Taylor Ogle (two kills, three aces, three assists).
Murray County (2-14) did not have any notable individual statistics to report.
• North Murray did not reports statistics from Tuesday’s scheduled match at Adairsville by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Northwest’s JV team beat Murray County, 25-14, 25-17, and Coahulla Creek, 25-17, 26-24.
Holly Heath led the Lady Bruins (7-2) with nine aces, while MaLane Kyer had 13 aces and seven assists.