October 10, 2013

North Murray takes aim at Region 5-3A softball title

North Murray High School’s softball team knows it’s staying home for the start of the state tournament.

Tonight, the Lady Mountaineers hope to come home with the Region 5-3A title.

North Murray’s surprising run at the region tournament continued Wednesday with a 10-5 victory against Cartersville in the losers’ bracket final at Hamilton Crossing in Adairsville.

North Murray (15-17), which entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed, had already clinched at least a top-three finish entering Wednesday’s action. By beating Cartersville, which lost 3-0 to Ringgold in the winners’ bracket final earlier in the evening, the Lady Mountaineers clinched a spot in today’s championship round.

They’ll have to beat top-seeded Ringgold twice to win the title in the double-elimination bracket — today’s first pitch is at 5 p.m., and a second game, if necessary, would follow the first — but after their performance the past few days, the Lady Mountaineers have earned the confidence of their first-year coach, Steve Granger.

“We put 16 hits on the board tonight and last night we got about the same,” he said, “so I definitely like our chances going into tomorrow.”

Ringgold swept its home-and-home series with North Murray during the regular season.

Wednesday’s win assured the Lady Mountaineers of hosting at least the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, which start next week.

North Murray never trailed against second-seeded Cartersville, which batted last. The Lady Mountaineers scored one run each in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings, plus three runs each in the third and fourth. The Lady Purple Hurricanes scored one run in the first, three in the third and another in the fifth.

Megan Pittman and Samantha Stafford each went 3-for-5 with a double to lead North Murray’s hitting, and Stafford also drove in three runs, while Pittman scored three runs. Amber Bandy and McChaela Cochran each went 2-for-4 with a home run — Bandy’s was a solo homer, while Cochran had a two-run shot — and Kaitlin Epps and Sarah Silvers each chipped in a pair of hits and drove in a run.

Kara Deal was the winning pitcher, allowing six hits and five walks while striking out two in a complete-game effort.

North Murray won twice Saturday, the first day of the region tournament, before losing 4-1 to Cartersville on Monday to fall into the losers’ bracket. The Lady Mountaineers bounced back to beat Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 8-2 and Sonoraville 5-2 on Tuesday, with the first win securing a a top-four finish in the region and with it a state berth.

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