From Staff Reports
A winning streak that stretched nearly a year and lasted across 27 games came to an end Saturday morning for Northwest Whitfield High School’s softball team.
The Lady Bruins suffered their first defeat since a Sept. 24, 2012 loss to Class 5A’s Woodland-Bartow, falling 7-0 to the host Lady Warriors at the Cherokee Invitational at the Twin Creeks Softball Complex in Woodstock. It was the Lady Bruins’ only loss during the two-day tournament as they won four other games.
Northwest (15-1) beat Eastside 16-1 and Marist 4-0 on Friday night, then capped the tournament with wins over Hillgrove, 9-1, and Gordon Lee, 4-0, on Saturday.
“I would much rather (lose) now than later in a game that could hurt you in the region or knock you out of the playoffs,” Northwest coach Jason Brooker said. “It is always good to play good teams and you get something out of playing great competition. After the loss, they responded well and beat two quality teams.”
In the three-inning mercy-rule win over Eastside, Hannah Godfrey, Bayli Cruse, Macy Weeks and Gabbi Helton each had a pair of hits while Godfrey and Weeks each drove in two runs. Cruse had a solo homer in the win over Marist, while pitcher BriLeigh Baggett had 11 strikeouts and allowed just four hits in that complete-game victory and Colbie Thomas and Ashley Conner each had two hits.
Baggett was tagged for the loss against Class 5A’s Cherokee despite nine strikeouts in six innings. Thomas was the lone Lady Bruin with two hits.
Thomas was 2-for-3 with a triple, while Conner and Bayley Marquardt each had two hits in the win over Hillgrove.
The game against Gordon Lee matched the defending Class 4A and Class A public school state champions from 2012. Baggett gave up four hits and struck out six to lead Northwest, while Godfrey was the offensive catalyst, going 2-or-2 with three stolen bases. Conner, Cruse and Jamison Payne all drove in runs, and Thomas was 2-for-4 with a double.
• At the Tiger Town Classic at Manning Mill Park in Adairsville, Coahulla Creek, Dalton and Southeast Whitfield competed, with the Lady Colts leading the local teams by winning four of five games.
In their first game Friday, the Lady Colts (14-4) beat Excel Christian 5-0. Nikki Hollis pitched all seven innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six. At the plate, Madeleine Kalafut finished 4-for-4 with three steals and two runs, Emily Banks went 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI, Baylee Adkins went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI and Allie Thompson finished 2-for-2 with a triple and two RBIs.
In Friday’s second game, Coahulla Creek fell 7-2 to Dalton. Shelbe Dilbeck pitched five innings, walking one and allowing eight hits and just five earned runs. Erin Harden, who made the all-tournament team, pitched two scoreless innings in relief and struck out four. Kalafut was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
In Saturday’s first game, the Lady Colts beat Armuchee 4-1. Hollis pitched five innings, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out six, while Harden pitched two scoreless innings and struck out five. Kalafut had a two-run home run.
In Saturday’s second game, Coahulla Creek won 5-3 against Pace Academy thanks to Harden’s game-winning pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh. Dilbeck pitched all seven innings, striking out four and allowing one earned run off three hits. Sydney Ross had a double, while Hollis went 2-for-3.
In the Lady Colts’ last game of the tournament, they won 11-3 versus Trion. Harden pitched seven innings, striking out nine and allowing one earned run off four hits and three walks. Kalafut was 3-for-4 with three runs and a triple. Banks did one better, going 4-for-5 with two doubles. Harden was 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs.
• Dalton coach Stacy Parker, who’s in his first season leading the Lady Catamounts (5-11), was pleased with his underclassmen-heavy team’s 3-2 showing at the event, including a 2-0 effort on Friday.
In the early games, Dalton won 5-0 against Excel Christian — coached by Parker’s younger brother — and Coahulla Creek, 7-2.
Against Excel, freshman pitcher Alli Swinford picked up the complete-game victory, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Christen Pender had a hit and drove in three runs, while Hannah Jones and Blayne Thomason each added an RBI. Swinford also won against Coahulla Creek, allowing no earned runs on five hits and a walk while striking out two. Jones went 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, Kylee Harris was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Thomas had a hit and drove in a run and Swinford doubled.
In Saturday competition — Dalton started its playing day at 9 a.m. after not finishing Friday’s game against Coahulla Creek until 10:45 p.m. because the stadium lights went out and the game was finished on another field — the Lady Cats lost 7-6 to Rockmart via international tiebreaker, beat Southeast Whitfield 6-5 in nine innings and lost 10-0 to Cedartown.
Against Rockmart, Pender was 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, while Harris, Thomason and Eternity Goodman each drove in a run. Swinford worked all eight innings in the circle, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out six.
Against Southeast, Goodman — who became the lone senior on the roster when Destinee Woods suffered a season-ending injury in the offseason ‚ was 3-for-4 and had the game-winning hit as Alex Brumlow scored from third in the ninth. Swinford was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, Jones went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Gabby Wright drove in a run. Carson Roberts was the winning pitcher.
Against Cedartown, the Lady Cats trailed 3-0 until the final inning. Thomason was 2-for-3, while Jones was 2-for-4 with a double. Swinford worked six innings, allowing four earned runs on nine hits and two walks with six strikeouts before giving way to Melissa Carlisi in relief.
In addition to several good hitting performances, Parker was impressed by sophomore Jordan Bellflower, who stepped in to start at catcher for Jones, who is nursing a nagging knee injury.
• Southeast won three of five games in the tournament, with Sydney Covington pitching in all five games.
In Friday’s first game, the Lady Raiders (7-11) won 11-10. Lilly Johnson finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Covington finished 2-for-4 with one RBI, Emily Beck had three RBIs and Chaya Drury went 2-for-4.
In the second game Friday, Southeast won 13-5 against Adairsville. Covington went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Beck finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Madison Pearson had a 2-for-2 game with an RBI and Drury finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
On Saturday, in the 6-5 loss to Dalton in nine innings, Covington finished 3-for-4 with one RBI, while Pearson had two hits. In the next game, the Lady Raiders lost 3-2 to Rockmart with Miranda Bates the only Southeast player with a hit. Southeast won 1-0 against in its final game at the tournament. Johnson had the lone RBI and Covington pitched the entire game, allowing just three hits.
• Northwest won three of five matches at Coahulla Creek’s Volley at the Creek tournament, the best performance among schools in Murray and Whitfield counties at the event.
The eight-team tournament field was split into two pools to set up bracket play, and the Lady Bruins (10-5) beat Coahulla Creek 28-26, 25-17 and North Murray 25-22, 25-20, then lost 25-22, 21-25, 16-14 to Ridgeland to finish second in the pool. In bracket play, they beat Ringgold 29-25, 25-21 before losing 25-14, 25-18 to eventual tournament champion Heritage-Catoosa.
On the day, Northwest’s Mary Kate Allen had 44 kills, nine blocks and five aces, while McKinley Hopkins had 16 kills and 11 aces and Peyton Maret finished with 14 kills.
Northwest and Coahulla Creek were set to play the third-place match, but after splitting the first two sets, the teams decided to not finish the match.
The host Lady Colts (5-16), who also reached the semifinals, had more losses than wins at the tournament but got two very big victories.
Coahulla Creek beat North Murray 28-26, 22-25, 19-17 in pool play — in addition to losing to Northwest during the early matches, the Lady Colts also fell 27-25, 20-25, 15-10 to Ridgeland — before winning 25-21, 23-25, 15-13 against Christian Heritage in the opening round of bracket play. A 25-12, 25-14 loss to Ridgeland kept Coahulla Creek out of the championship.
Fossett finished with a strong stat line for the day — 44 assists, 18 kills, five digs, three blocks and two aces — while all-tournament team selection Nikki Ross had 18 kills, five blocks and two aces. Gabrielle Henderson added 12 digs, nine kills, three aces and a block, while Erin Orem chipped in nine digs, seven kills and six aces.
Christian Heritage (10-4) finished second in its pool before losing to Coahulla Creek to open bracket play.
In the early action, the Lady Lions topped Ringgold, 25-22, 25-18, and Murray County, 25-14, 25-20, but lost to Heritage-Catoosa 26-24, 25-13. Jessica Seehorn had 57 assists and 13 kills to lead the Lady Lions for the day, while Savannah Roberson chipped in 36 kills, Brenna Mugge had a team-best 15 digs and Molly Porter contributed 15 kills.
Murray County (3-19), which was winless at the tournament, also lost in pool play to Ringgold, 25-21, 25-18, and Heritage, 25-11, 25-11, before falling in the first round of bracket play to Ridgeland, 25-20, 25-21.
Heidy Cabral had 23 assists, seven digs and five aces to pace the Lady Indians. North Murray did not reports its scores and statistics by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.