COVINGTON, Ga. — Despite a 30-minute rain delay, the Alcovy Tigers softball team gave coach Miranda Lamb her first win with a dominating 11-3 home victory Thursday night against Putnam County.
The Tigers were helped by Lanie Knight’s strong performance in the pitching circle, as the senior threw a complete game, four-strikeout performance to go along with her five hits from the plate.
Junior Laci Thompson and freshman Lexie McDonald both chipped in with four hits, Gwyn Lee and Courtney Freeman added three and KeKe Gibson, Abby Trantham and Janae Bellamy each contributed a pair.
The Lady Tigers also enjoyed a strong defensive performance en route to a bounce-back win that came two days after a 12-0 scrimmage setback to North Oconee on Tuesday.
It was the kind of showing at the plate that Lamb said she was hoping to see from a team that had beleaguered bats at times last year.
“Coming in, I’ve said we have to work more on our bats, and you just have to be doing it to get that better,” Lamb said. “It was tough for us last year to put hits together. One girl would hit one inning and another would hit another inning, but we could never put it together to get girls on base and over and in, so I was looking for that.”
Alcovy got off to a bit of a rocky start as Putnam County opened the game with a run in the top of the first inning, but the Tigers responded with a two-run bottom half, giving them a lead they’d never relinquish.
A five-run bottom-of-the-third broke the game open, and the Tigers plated three more runners in the fourth. It took the War Eagles until the top of the fifth inning to crack the scoreboard again.
Lamb lauded the team’s defensive dominance, particularly Thompson.
“She had a good game defensively,” Lamb said. “She’s a vacuum over at third base.”
Things really get jumping in earnest for Lamb’s squad next week as it will play a pair of Class AAAAAAA teams before opening region play. That slate of games begins Monday as Alcovy will host South Gwinnett, then turn around on Tuesday to travel to in-county rival Newton.
Then on Thursday, Alcovy will travel to Evans to face Lakeside in its first region series series of the season. Getting early-season victories, particularly against region foes, is something Lamb said will go a long way in getting the Tigers back to being a postseason fixture again — something that isn’t as far back in the past as some may think.
From at least 2012 through 2015, the Tigers were either regularly winning or contending for region championships and making deep state tournament runs. The 2012 squad coached by Monica Marks went 27-4-1 overall and won its region championship while being ranked as a top 50 team nationally, according to MaxPreps.
And through the 2013 through the 2015 seasons, Alcovy won 27 straight region games. But things began to change when the last Georgia High School Association reclassification shifted the Tigers into its current region filled with Augusta-area powerhouses.
Lamb said neither she, nor her team, is deterred by that, however. In fact, she believes Alcovy has enough talent to get back to postseason play sooner rather than later.
“I don’t want to set the bar too high, but I really do think we have the potential to make the playoffs,” she said. “I’d love that, the girls would love that, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t with the talent that we have. We know that chemistry will have to come together and the stars are gonna have to align and God’s gonna have to give us that power. Our region’s very tough, but we’re a tough team, so we’re definitely looking to get over that hump this year, and get back into the playoffs and being a contender again.”