The Alcovy Lady Tigers had a tough start to the 2008 softball season as they dropped their first two games at the Griffin Diamond Classic tournament in Griffin on Friday.
In the first game, freshman Caitlin Williams pitched five strong innings against Georgia Military College but it wasn't enough as the Lady Bulldogs pulled out a 3-1 victory.
In the nightcap, Alcovy received another solid pitching performance, this time from Summer Kusch, but again struggled to score runs as they dropped a 4-1 decision to Lovett in five innings.
Alcovy coach Casey Bates came into the season optimistic about his pitching and both Williams and Kusch didn't disappoint. But hitting has not been the Lady Tigers' strength in the past and early on, the lack of offense was the difference in both games.
"If we score one run and win that ball game it's because our pitching and defense was solid," Bates said. "If we keep teams below three runs, we should win those games.
"Caitlin Williams pitched her heart out today. We came in and Dallas Hardin was going to start but she was having some back problems so I asked Caitlin if she was ready to go and she stepped up. She did a great job."
Williams gave up three hits and one earned run in her high school debut but Alcovy's bats were unable to pick her up.
After the Lady Bulldogs took the early 1-0 lead in the first inning, Williams shut them down over the next three innings before giving up two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Alcovy scored its lone run in the top of the sixth after Amber Melton doubled home Jasmine Tolen. The Lady Tigers looked poised to come from behind but left the bases loaded to end the inning and the game as the one hour and fifteen minute time rule handed the home team the win.
"Amber Melton had a great night and we count on her, but what we have to do is get girls on base in front of her," Bates said.
"Our problem tonight is we were swinging at the pitchers' pitches and taking our pitches. That's just first game jitters."
In the second game, Lovett scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning to capture the early lead but the Lady Tigers struck back for a run of their own in the top of the third when Tolen after Amber Melton knocked her in with a ball the Lady Lions misplayed.
Lovett snatched that run right back in their half of the inning to push the lead to 3-1. Lovett added a run in the fifth and held on for the 4-1 win.
"We had one bad inning pitching," Bates said. "Summer got a little tired but hey, she only gave up three runs. We have to score more than that. You have to score more than one run to win a ball game."
Alcovy managed to put runners in scoring position throughout the game, but key hits were hard to come by.
"The girls are down a little bit because they wanted to go to gold bracket but I told them, let's go out and win the bronze bracket," Bates said. "We're going to start hitting the ball. Right now we're getting hits, they're just not back-to-back.
"We had runners on base we just couldn't get them in. They're going to start coming through."
After two frustrating losses, Bates is keeping things in perspective.
"Winning this [tournament] isn't going to win us the state tournament," Bates said. "We have to get people ready to play. Next week we aren't even going to remember this tournament. Overall, I'm proud of them. They played hard."