One defending state champion and another team that went all the way to the Class AAA Final Four last season met on the field in an early region matchup on Monday night, and the result was a fiercely competitive game that featured dramatic late comeback.
Calhoun, who won the Class AA title last fall, hosted Ringgold for a Region 6-AAA contest and led for a majority of the game, but it was the Lady Tigers who would have the final say in the outcome, rallying for three runs in the seventh for a 4-2 win.
The Lady Jackets (4-3, 0-1) took the lead in the third inning on a solo homer by Madison Green and then added another run later in the inning when Ryan Brzozoski came home on a throwing error. After that, however, Calhoun failed to add any more insurance runs despite some good opportunities.
After Dare Schley hit a solo homer for Ringgold (5-3, 2-0) in the sixth, the score stood at 2-1 going to the final inning. The Lady Tigers got a leadoff walk from Ally Ellis to start the frame, and after Karoline Sholl reached on a bunt and both runners were moved up on a sac bunt by Aimee Davidson, Abby McKinney came through with a clutch two-RBI single to put her team in the lead.
They then added another run on an infield single by Kaylee Womack.
McKinney, who pitched all seven innings for Ringgold, came out and got the Lady Jackets in order in the bottom half to seal the road win.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if it ended 1-0,” said Calhoun coach Diane Smith. “That’s why I used a pinch runner in the second inning because I thought one run could’ve won it. We had opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Calhoun’s Kinsey Liscio took the tough luck loss for her team despite a stellar performance. She went all seven innings and gave up four runs on eight hits while striking out 15 against the potent Ringgold offense. She worked out of jams in the fifth and sixth inning to keep her team in the lead before the Lady Tigers’ rally in the seventh.
McKinney was just as impressive for Ringgold in the complete-game win. She kept her team in it throughout, allowing them the chance at the comeback. She allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out four.
Smith said she felt like her team was ready for the game, but they just didn’t execute when it mattered most in the loss.
“The girls were so fired up today,” said Smith. “They beat us here last year when we only played them once, and the girls were ready to play. We had runners on second and third with no outs and couldn’t get them in. It goes back to the little things. You’ve got to but the ball in play and on the ground in that situation, and the girls just couldn’t connect.
“This one hurt, but we’ll be alright. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Brzozoski was the lone Lady Jacket with multiple hits in the contest. Also finishing with hits were Green, Ashlyn Barnes, Jana Johns, Emily Weatherman
The game was just another early-season test for Calhoun, who’ve already played Buford and Northwest Whitfield over the last week. Smith said the tough games will only make her team better as the season moves forward.
“We like the competition,” said Smith. “That’s why we schedule tough teams. We want to play teams that are as good or better than us because we want competition.
“We’re fortunate to be 4-3 because we’ve played several good teams in close games. We’ve got a lot of things to work on. We just didn’t play up to our capabilities today.”
The Lady Jackets are on the road on Wednesday at Sonoraville. They then return home Thursday to host Adairsville.