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Region champs

On a chilly afternoon on Saturday – one that was perfect for football but just okay for softball – Alcovy showed its dominance and ran through Newton 16-1 in just three innings to capture the 2014 2-AAAAAA Region Championship.

“That was the goal at the beginning of the year, to come in play hard and to win region. They (the Tigers) came in ready to play,” Brandy Keeter, alcovy head coach, said.

With this being the third time this season that the two teams have met, expecting an Alcovy win wouldn’t be a surprise, but the way the Tigers dominated on offense and defense was spectacular, but surprising as Newton just came out flat.
Newton went up to bat first. Ciara Bryan, normally a lock to get on base in any game against any pitcher, but Kalia Johnson – who faced 11 batters and struck out eight – managed to strike Bryan out with ease. Bryan’s case wasn’t helped by a swing at a bad pitch to give her the first strike. She looked a little anxious at the plate, but she later made up for it. Next up was Cheyenne Walsingham who tried to bunt twice, but couldn’t connect on either attempt, drawing two quick strikes before striking out on the next pitch. A groundout ended the first half of inning one.

Usually freshman pitcher Brittney Ellis is pretty strong in the circle, on Saturday that was not the case. Ellis gave up five hits, one walk and an HBP after one inning as the Tigers batted around to secure a 6-0 lead after one inning.

Tyra Hollingsworth started it off for alcovy with a great bunt as she sped down the baseline for a single. Aubree Thacker followed that up with a hit that went right back to Ellis, who threw out Hollingsworth at second. Raven Smith got up to bat and with a quick swing, shot one deep to left for a double RBI that scored Thacker. Johnson walked and and Jordyn White singled to get on base, effectively loading the bases. Madison Beazley was HBP and scored Smith and after Ellis struck out a batter, a passed ball scored a pinch runner. Emma Waddell lined a chopper down third to score Beazley and White, as the Tigers took a 6-0 lead.

The second and third inning was much of the same for Alcovy, although they did get a little help from Newton on a few errors, but mostly the Tigers were just putting the bat on the ball and hitting it where the Lady Rams weren’t.

Bryan managed to score the only Lady Ram run of the game with an infield homerun she blasted to right field. Bryan was rounding third before anyone could even get to the ball in right field, she has that kind of speed. It’s fun to watch, but it wasn’t enough.

Both teams will advance to state playoffs, with the Tigers hosting their first round matchup against a region-1 team while Newton will travel to South Georgia for the first round of state as the region 2-AAAAAA runner-ups.

“We feel good,” Keeter said. “We should matchup pretty well in the first round of state. We matchup with region one so it should be a good series.”

“I think we have a good road ahead of us where we could actually make it to the second round of state, if not further,” Ashley Coles, Lady Rams’ head coach, said after the game.

“I think we have a good chance of winning that two out of three series. I think our girls are in a good place mentally. We kind of got down, but I think that we know we can move forward from it. We’re real proud of where we’re at in second place.”