HAMPTON, Ga. — It wasn’t anything fancy or flashy from the Alcovy Lady Tigers that propelled them to a 8-7, extra-inning win over Woodward Academy Tuesday night.
It was the team’s ability to play small ball — and the ability to hold off a late Woodward rally — that earned them the win and, ultimately, the Region 3-AAAAAA championship.
Fourth-year head coach Miranda Lamb displayed her excitement following Tuesday’s result.
“I think I’m still in shock a little bit because the game was so close,” Lamb said. “I didn’t anticipate this game going into extra innings. The way we fought back is what I need to see.”
The top of Alcovy’s lineup was due up heading into the bottom of the eighth inning tied 7-7.
Three of the team’s biggest contributors all season made their way to the plate.
Ashlyn Hoy got things started with a lead-off walk that was followed up by Kaitlyn Williams’ sacrifice bunt that moved Hoy to second. Hoy remained aggressive on the bases as she advanced to third off a passed ball.
In the next at-bat, CeCe Williams faced a 1-2 count after fouling two pitches off. On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, CeCe got enough of the ball to center field that allowed time for Hoy to jet across home plate and score the winning run.
As Hoy made it home, the entire Lady Tigers team and coaches stormed Gerald Matthews Park in celebration of capturing the region title — the first for Alcovy since 2015.
A special message delivered by Lamb prior to the final inning seemed to motivate the players.
“I gave them a little Tiger love and told them, ‘We have to find the heart to win this ball game,’” Lamb said. “‘You are better than they are from top to bottom, now go out there and show it. And that’s what we did.”
Tuesday’s win had fans on the edge of their seats with some intense, close moments.
Alcovy was leading 7-3 in the top of the fifth inning with two outs when Woodward Academy found a spark. With a runner on first, Gali Nelson homered to left field to cut the lead in half.
Then, when Alcovy didn’t get a runner on base in the bottom half, Woodward Academy drew even off two RBI singles in the sixth.
Prior to Hoy’s game-winning run, Alcovy went scoreless from the fifth to the seventh inning.
But when the Lady Tigers desperately needed an out, they found one. Whether it was a strikeout by CeCe or a heads up play by the defense, Alcovy did enough to set its offense up for the win.
Lamb stressed how her team rose to the occasion with their backs against the wall.
“I kept telling them, ‘Find it in your heart to pull this game out,’” Lamb said. “Sometimes, our body language was down and I just needed a reaction from them.”
The Lady Tigers fell behind 2-0 right out of the gate, but they responded with a two-run first inning to tie the score. Then, they had a four-run third inning to provide some separation.
CeCe batted Kaitlyn in on a ground ball that was mishandled by Woodward. CeCe proceeded to score on a sacrifice fly by Munoz. McDonald then had an RBI double that MacKenzie Parrott followed with a RBI single.
Kaitlyn batted Hoy in the fourth inning to give Alcovy a four-run advantage.
However, after the War Eagles came storming back to tie things up, Alcovy had its opportunity to win the game in the seventh inning.
Munoz reached on an error, Kaylie McDonald singled and Alexis Hernandez walked to load the bases with two outs in the seventh. Tajah Jackson struck out swinging to strand the bases full and send the game into extra innings.
When the game was over, that became a moot point. In fact, all the adversity and speed bumps in Tuesday’s game took a back seat to the postgame celebration when the Lady Tigers hoisted the region championship trophy.
With the win, Alcovy will enter the state playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Lamb said that she and her team were going to take a day to celebrate and recover from the region tournament. But, starting Thursday, it’s back to work.
“The competition level is only going to go up from here,” Lamb said. “Now, we’re hosting the first round and I hope [the players’] intensity and focus is on softball next week. We’ve achieved this first goal and the next one is to make it to Columbus.”