Coming off an emotional, hard-fought, extra-innings win over their rival Sonoraville last Thursday, the Calhoun Lady Jackets could’ve looked at the matchup against Murray County, who is winless in region play this year, and gone through the motions against a lesser opponent. They did the exact opposite, however.
The Lady Jackets looked focused and motivated as they jumped on Murray County early and never let up, scoring runs in every inning en route to a mercy-rule shortened 14-1 home victory in four innings. Calhoun (10-2, 8-2 in 6-AAA) also shut it down in the field as they got a shortened complete-game effort from Molly Walker in the circle and played solid defense behind her.
“I was proud of the way our girls came out and played today,” said Calhoun coach Diane Smith. “We could’ve played down to our competition’s level like we have before this year a few times, but they just went about their business and everyone did their jobs. You have to treat every region game as a big one, and we had that kind of attitude today.”
The game started with some offensive fireworks for the Lady Jackets as Lyndi Rae Davis connected for an opposite-field, two-run homer off the scoreboard in the first inning. Later in the inning, Audrey Wilbanks drove in a run with a single to make it 3-0.
Calhoun added three more in the second inning with the big blow being a two-run single by Erin Barnes. They completed their scoring parade with four runs each in the third and fourth inning with Carlie Henderson contributing a two-run double, Davis coming through with an RBI-double and an RBI single, and Barnes and Molly Walker each contributing an RBI-single. For the day, Davis was 3-for-4 with a homer, double and five RBIs, and Barnes added three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Walker and Bailee Pullen each contributed to hits with Pullen scoring three times, Molly Banks adding a hit and a run scored and Espee Reyes and Mattie Jane Mashburn scoring two runs apiece.
“Our lineup top to bottom was good today,” said Smith. “We got production from almost every spot, and that’s what I expect out of this team. We have good hitters that are capable of getting clutch hits at any time no matter if they’re batting first or ninth.”
Walker handled the pitching duties and earned a win, going four innings and allowing one run on just one hit while striking out four, walking two and hitting two batters. The only run for Murray County (1-12, 0-9 in 6-AAA) came in the third as Brooklyn Gonzales connected for an RBI-single. Natalie O’Neal also reached twice on walks and Jordan Swanson and Attie Ridley each reached on a hit-by-pitch.
“We gave Molly the ball today, and she did exactly what we needed her to,” said Smith. “She did a good job of making (Murray County) hit behind in the count and hit tough pitches. She didn’t try to strike everyone out because she knew she had a good defense behind her, and they helped her out today.”
The win keeps Calhoun within one game of first-place Sonoraville, who they split their regular-season series with, including last Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Lady Phoenix in eight innings. Smith said her team knows how important each region game is from here on out as they try to keep pace with Sonoraville.
“We have to come to play every single day,” said Smith. “We need to win out in the region to have a chance at the No. 1 seed, and maybe someone will give us some help by beating Sonoraville.”
The Lady Jackets are on the road at Ringgold on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. They will be on the road on Tuesday as they visit Adairsville at 5:30 p.m. for another 6-AAA contest.
In other recent prep softball action:
Gordon Lee 2, Calhoun 1
The Lady Jackets went on the road for a tough non-region test and fell just short thanks to a late Gordon Lee run.
Calhoun (10-3) trailed 1-0 going to the sixth but tied it up thanks to an RBI-single by Molly Walker. However, the Lady Trojans answered right back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning and held on from there to send the Lady Jackets to their first loss since Aug. 13.
Along with Walker’s RBI-hit, she also drew a walk in the contest. Carlie Henderson added two hits and scored a run, and Audrey Wilbanks and Lona Sims had the only other two hits for the Lady Jackets.
Maggie McBrayer took the loss for Calhoun in the circle, despite some solid work for the day. The sophomore pitched six innings and gave up two runs on eight hits while striking out eight and walking three.