Rockmart softball prided itself all year in beating its opponents in a multitude of ways.
Saturday morning, it was the Lady Jacket’s powerful hitting that gave them their first ever state championship.
Rockmart recorded 14 hits and a pair of home runs as it defeated Monticello 9-7 to win the GHSA Class AA state championship game in Columbus. Senior Kelsea Elrod hit a go-ahead two-run double in the sixth inning to keep the Lady Jackets ahead for good.
“The feeling is almost indescribable,” Luke said. “It is every softball team’s dream to make that one final out to end the season, to end the season with a win in Columbus. To establish ourselves as a dominant program is a goal we have always had.”
This is the first softball state title for Rockmart (35-2) and the team also breaks the program record for wins in a season. The team won its final 17 games and went undefeated in the postseason.
Junior Emily Loveless recorded two hits Saturday, including a two-run homer in the first inning, and pitched all seven innings. Anna Lewis and Emily Maulding each had two hits, and Caroline Conring hit a homerun in the fourth and recorded three RBIs.
The early homer from Loveless helped Rockmart score three out of the gate, and she allowed only one run through three innings. The Lady Jackets added four more runs in the fourth — including Conring’s homer — to go up 7-1.
But Monticello (24-7) finally broke through, scoring three runs each in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game.
“When you have two teams as good as us and Monticello, it’s tough to gauge anything,” Luke said. “Anything can happen in the state tournament, and you really just have to be ready for it. Thankfully, this team kept it together during the comeback.”
Rockmart started the sixth with a single from Lewis and a Macy McNabb walk. After both runners were bunted over, Elrod came through with a line drive double to put the Lady Jackets back in front.
In the bottom of the seventh, Monticello had a chance to tie it with runners on first and second and one out. But a line drive went straight to Emily Maulding at third base, who caught it and threw to Lewis at second to double off the runner and end the game.
The Lady Jackets only lose four seniors, and key contributors like, Loveless, Maulding, Conring and Cambree Stanley are all set to return next season.
“It’s going to be tough to replace the leadership from the seniors, but we have a ton of talent coming back,” Luke said. “Winning a state title is unbelievable, but we still want to get better. We still are not satisfied.”