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PREP SOFTBALL: Carney finds success pitching, hitting in Armuchee's 9-7 win

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Armuchee pitcher Erin Carney entered her first game of the season against Darlington with a bit of hesitation. The senior saw her first scheduled outing Tuesday against Rome postponed and felt she wasn’t bringing her best at the plate.

After Wednesday, her worries appear to be over.

Carney recorded four hits and six RBIs while pitching a complete game as the Lady Indians jumped to an early 8-1 lead and held on for a 9-7 victory against the host Lady Tigers. Armuchee fought off rallies in the sixth and seventh to pull out the win.

“Like I told my team, we started out on a high. We went to the top of the mountain early, but the problem is we stayed there,” Armuchee coach Shane Arp said. “But in the end, I think our girls’ experience showed down the stretch.”

Carney hit a three-run homer in the first inning, a two-run double in the second and an RBI single in the seventh. Most importantly, Carney struck out Karoline Hunt to kill a Darlington three-run rally in the seventh to end the game with the tying run on first.

Armuchee’s Savannah Poole had two singles and two runs scored and Aleigha Allmon scored twice and drew a walk.

Darlington provided plenty of power as well, with Caroline Dingler and Sydney Seymour each hitting home runs. Alex Gardner added two hits and scored two runs, while Olivia Adams had two singles and a pair of RBIs.

Carney was on her game early on against Darlington, allowing only two baserunners through the first three innings while recording three strikeouts. Lady Tiger Kathryne Ledbetter struggled allowed three hits and another baserunner via error before Carney’s home run.

“Erin even told me after the game that she had not done anything like that for awhile,” Arp said. “She is a senior and she is battle-tested, so she can have days like the one she produced today.”

Darlington (0-1) rallied in the third with Seymour’s two-run shot, but the Lady Tigers really began to swing the bats in the sixth as three singles and a walk produced a run before Carney got out of a jam with the bases loaded.

Josi McKibbon came in relief for Ledbetter in the third and was crucial in the comeback. She silenced Armuchee, allowing only three hits and one run over the final five innings.

“For her to come in earlier than we expected and pitch like that was a big moment for us,” Darlington coach Matt Larry said. “Just a herculean effort from her, because she could’ve easily just cashed it in when we were down 8-1.”

The Lady Indians stood tall in the seventh, beginning with a single from Poole to begin the inning. She worked her way over to second before Carney blooped in a single with two outs for her final RBI of the night.

Darlington (1-0) recorded a double, two singles and two walks in the final inning before Hunt represented the winning run at the plate. But Carney’s fastball hit the corner for strike three and secured the win.

“I knew the umpire was shrinking the strike zone so I knew I had to focus when getting those last few pitches in that final inning,” Carney said.

Armuchee plays its first region game today when it travels to Rockmart while Darlington hosts Cartersville on Saturday at noon.