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Lady Tigers blank Newton
Johnsons one-hitter thrusts Alcovy past Newton
Alcovy Vs Newton Emma And Coach G

The match to decide the Region 2-AAAAAA softball champion last year came down to county rivals Alcovy and Newton. Alcovy won in a blowout in three innings, and although the win wasn’t as big this time, the Lady Tigers still won in convincing fashion, 8-0 in the two rivaling schools first of two games on the season.

Britney Ellis pitched for Newton and struck out Madisson Woodruff to begin the inning. Corley Thacker followed that up with a grounder past first base for a single. Raven Smith came up to bat directly after and hit the ball to second, but it was missed by Ashton McKinnon and instead of going after the ball, McKinnon dragged after it allowing Thacker to score on the error.

Kalia Johnson would ground out and Smith eventually got to third on a passed ball. Tanisha “Skeeter” Williams hit a blooper single to right to score Smith and Alcovy was up 2-0 midway through the first inning.

Johnson was in the circle for Alcovy and she blew pitches right by Newton batters, finishing the game with 13 K’s, allowing one hit and facing the minimum in each inning except for one.

“This is definitely, I think a rivalry game for her so she definitely comes out ready to pitch and wanting to prove herself,”

Ellis and the Lady Rams’ defense tightened up after a subpar first inning, and held the Lady Tigers scoreless up until the fourth inning. Williams popped off the inning with a line drive to left field for a single. Emma Waddell followed the hit up with a shot to left of her own and Amber Bagley joined the party with a single to left center that loaded the bases.

Alexis Nolley was called out on an infield fly rule before Autumn Bagley hit one to Newton’s Ciara Bryan at shortstop, and Bryan made the throw to home to get the force out and keep Alcovy off the board. However, it was a passed ball that scored the lone run of the inning on the next play.

After Johnson retired the side in order again, Alcovy’s offense awakened in the top of the fifth inning. Thacker started it off with a blooper single in right field. Smith grounded out to McKinnon, but moved Thacker to scoring position allowing Johnson to get pick up an RBI with hit that sped past second base. Williams got on with a single and a passed ball moved the runners into scoring position.

Waddell got walked and loaded the bases again for Alcovy. With just one out Lanie Knight hit a line drive to score Thacker and Johnson. An error by Bryan would score another run and the Lady Tigers were up 7-0 midway through the fifth inning.

“I think hitting was what we’ve been focusing on. We have pretty good defense. I mean we didn’t lose that many starters from last year that didn’t play with Alcovy before,” Keeter said.

“I think sometimes it takes us an at-bat or two to get adjusted to the pitcher and maybe the umpire or just to wake up. I’m not sure,” Keeter laughed.

Ellis would get the lone hit for Newton in the bottom of the fifth, and Alcovy scored one more run in the sixth holding Newton scoreless to win the game.

If it weren’t for Newton’s continuous errors – a theme that’s plagued them all season – the game might have been closer, but Alcovy still would’ve won.

“Everyone on the field and everyone in the stands that knows anything about ball should know that they shouldn’t have even had a run, much less three. That definitely puts a damper on things for you,” Ashley Coles, Newton head coach, said.

Alcovy totaled almost a dozen hits while Newton tallied just one.

“Of course Kalia’s pitching was a huge factor. We only had one it,” Coles said. “I’ll be honest, I went up to her after the game, I’ve known her for a long time, and I told her, ‘Kalia, you’ve improved a ton.’ And most people probably say, ‘What does she mean by that?’ As a pitcher, I see, Kalia’s just always been about speed. Well Kalia has mixed it up, she’s gotten smart. She shut down a couple of our girls tonight.”

“I told them I said, ‘She’s gonna be fast and that’s intimidating, but don’t let her intimidate you into swinging. Make her throw the pitch you wanna hit.’ Now, granted, we were a little bit long in our swings so we’re a little bit late, but if we can fix that before we play them again I really feel like we’ll give them a good ball game. We just gotta play the defense.”

Despite her genuine praise of Johnson, Coles believes her team can hit her. She says they’ll go back to the drawing board, but where her disappointment lies the most is the fact that they lost what should’ve been a two or three runs game by eight runs.

Alcovy will host Lakeside on Tuesday and Newton will travel to face Tucker. The two teams meet again on September 22 at Alcovy in what will likely determine No. 1 and No. 2 seeding in the region playoffs.