The Calhoun Lady Jackets have had several close games that they found themselves on the wrong end of this season, including three one-run losses in the last week alone. So they needed a gutsy, comeback win to build a little confidence and momentum as they approach the end of the regular season and start of the region playoffs, and that’s what they got on Wednesday.
Calhoun’s Blair Hall came through in a clutch situation in the bottom of the sixth to turn a one-run deficit into a 3-2 lead thanks to an RBI-single up the middle which proved to be the difference in her team’s 3-2 victory at home over rival Sonoraville.
The Lady Jackets (15-6, 4-3 subregion) trailed 2-1 after four innings as Sonoraville were able to push a couple runs across thanks to timely hits, but Calhoun freshman Maggie McBrayer held them right there, and her offense finally put her back in control thanks to Hall’s big hit that brought home Carlie Henderson for the tying run and courtesy runner Elizabeth Peyton right behind her for the eventual game-winning run.
Calhoun coach Diane Smith said this was the kind of win they needed, especially against a talented team like Sonoraville, who beat the Lady Jackets 4-0 a few weeks ago.
“This should really get our momentum going,” said Smith. “We needed that. We’ve lost six games this year and four of them have been by one run. We have not played a team that I felt was hands-down more talented than us…it just seems like we’ll get in a situation where we can score, but we haven’t been getting those runs across the plate. But tonight we got the job done.
“This showed the girls that we can beat anybody in this region, subregion or I think in the state. Sonoraville is a really good ball team, I don’t take anything away from them. But now we split with them in the regular season, and we might see them again in the region tournament. The team that wins that one is the one that really counts the most.”
Sonoraville (14-11, 7-1), who clinched the No. 1 seed out of Region 6-AAA South on Tuesday thanks to a doubleheader sweep over Adairsville, took the quick lead quickly on Wednesday thanks to an RBI-double by Griffin Holden in the first inning to bring home Harleigh Chastain, who led off the game with a single.
After Calhoun quickly evened things up in the bottom half of the first on an RBI-groundout by Lyndi Rae Davis, the two pitchers, McBrayer and Sonoraville’s Kristen Davis, settled in and were strong in the circle. Sonoraville took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on an RBI-single by Alyssa Hughes.
But after Davis silenced the Calhoun’s bats for much of the night, they finally came through in the sixth. Henderson led off the inning with a single and was then sacrificed to second by Erin Barnes. Davis then hit a long fly ball to left field that fell for a double, pushing Henderson to third, and Hall stepped to the plate and ripped a single up the middle for the clutch, game-winning hit.
Sonoraville coach Chad Hayes said it was a well-played and well-pitched game by both teams, and he was disappointed that his team came up a little short but with the No. 1 seed from the subregion already in their grasp, they are focused on what they can do in the postseason.
“Today was to really good teams going at it,” said Hayes. “I feel like we’re the two best teams in the region, north or south. Obviously you want to win that game, but we didn’t put enough balls in play tonight. I think if we put a few more in play when we have runners on, we probably win that game. But we didn’t, and they took advantage with some big hits there in the sixth and that was the difference in the game.
“I feel good about this team though going forward. We can’t let this one affect us too much. The one thing I know is that we’ve been in close games, and we know how to win them. I’m very confident in this team, and I don’t think this game carries over. We’ve got to play our game and not make mistakes, and if we do that, I don’t think there are many teams that can beat us.”
It seemed like McBrayer and Davis went inning for inning in Wednesday’s game, each keeping the pressure on the opposing team’s lineup and making everything difficult at the plate. McBrayer earned the win, going seven innings and giving up two runs on six hits while striking out 10 batters. She closed the game out by striking out the side in order in the seventh.
“My freshman pitcher did an outstanding job today,” said Smith. “There has been a couple of games this year where she gave up an early run and got down on herself a little. I’ve told her you have to be tough out there and dig down deep. We all have confidence in her, and she needs to have more confidence in herself. She showed that tonight and took care of business.”
Davis took the tough-luck loss despite holding the lead for her team much of the game. She went six innings and gave up three runs on four hits while striking out nine. The junior didn’t allow a hit to the Jackets until the fifth inning. Davis also was the lone player for either team to have multiple hits as she finished 2-for-3 with a double at the plate. Chastain, Holden, Hughes and Grace Fitzwater also had hits for Sonoraville.
Henderson had a hit and scored two runs for Calhoun, and Hall and Davis accounted for all three RBIs. Jordan Blair was the only other Lady Jacket with a hit.
Sonoraville will now wait for their opponent for the first round of the Region 6-AAA Playoffs on Tuesday as they will host the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AAA North in a best 2-of-3 series with Game 3 being held on Wednesday if necessary.
Calhoun is back at home on Thursday to host Adairsville in their final subregion game. They need a win and a Bremen loss to Haralson County on Thursday to claim the No. 2 seed in the subregion outright. If both win, they would finish in a tie for second, and a tiebreaker would determine which got the No. 2 spot and the right to host the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AAA North on Tuesday. No matter what happens, Smith said she feels good about her team now that the pressure is going to turn up.
“I feel really good about our team,” said Smith. “We want a good showing against Adairsville and this weekend at the Grayson Tournament, but the games on Tuesday are the ones that really matter. If we don’t win those two, our season is over. I’m confident we will rise to the challenge though.”
The Lady Jackets will compete in the Grayson Tournament at Buford on Saturday for one more warm-up before the Region 6-AAA Playoffs begin on Tuesday. On Saturday, they will play East Coweta at 11 a.m. and Buford at 1 p.m.