Long's pitching, outstanding defense left Phoenix past Calhoun

Lady Jackets senior Malysha Winston makes contact during a 4-0 loss for Calhoun versus crosstown rival Sonoraville. Pitching and defense by the Phoenix held CHS scoreless.

The Calhoun High School softball team is on a roll.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time with them starting 5-A Region 7 action last Thursday afternoon at home against Woodland.

“I think the girls are starting to find their footing,” Calhoun High School softball coach Diane Smith said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do and there’s still a lot of softball to be played, but we’ve played very well the last week and I think we’re starting to put some things together. And I feel like the girls will continue to do that.”

They went into their league opener Thursday night with a 3-2 record overall after they lost their first two games of the year and then rebounded with three consecutive wins.

After falling to Sonoraville to begin the year, the Jackets lost their first game in the Dalton tournament last Saturday, falling 6-3 to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.

But a couple of hours later, the girls got into the win column with a 9-4 conquest of East Paulding to close out their participation in the one-day tournament at Dalton.

They followed that up on Monday with their best offensive performance of the year in a 12-4 triumph over Adairsville and then 24 hours later than they planned because of the rain that fell down on Tuesday, the Jackets made it three in a row Wednesday afternoon with a 2-0 win over Cartersville.

“I really think the biggest difference between the first two games and the three that we won was the defense we played, “ Smith said. “We have the two games where we scored a lot of runs and that was good to see because we didn’t score many runs in the two losses, but I really thought the way we played defense was big in the three wins.

“We fielded the ball. We caught the ball. We made good throws and we didn’t give the other team any extra outs to play with. I know we’re a good offensive team and we’ve done a good job in this stretch, but we have to play good defense and we’ve been doing that.”

The setback to LFO in Dalton came when the Warriors scored all their runs late as teams played six-inning games in the tournament.

Calhoun led 1-0 going into the fifth inning after taking the lead with a run in the bottom of the second, but the Warriors took control of the game with a five-run top of the fifth.

Calhoun got one of those back in the bottom half of the frame, but Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe pushed a solo run home in the top of the sixth to take the win.

Just a while later last Saturday, however, the Jackets had the first real big offensive inning of their own this summer in taking a come-from-behind victory over East Paulding to get into the win column.

They started off by scoring a run in the top of the first inning, but East Paulding tied it with a run of their own in the second and then scored three times in the bottom of the third to take a 4-1 advantage.

The Jackets fought back with two runs in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to 4-3 and then scored six times in the fifth too not only take the lead but break the game open.

After the third inning, the Raiders did not score again as Calhoun’s pitching and defense took over.

And the Jackets kept swinging the big bats Monday against Adairsville, notching 13 runs in the first four innings for their easiest win so far.

After the Tigers took an 2-0 lead in the top of the first, the Jackets responded with a seven-run bottom half to take a 7-2 lead going into the second inning.

They added on in the second with two more to go in front 9-2 but Adairsville scored twice in the top of the third to make it a 9-4 game.

Calhoun put the game away in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four runs to close it out.

In the win over Cartersville, they scored a solo run in the fourth and then an insurance run in the top of the seventh to hold off the Purple Hurricanes.

Cartersville had just three hits in the game.

“Our pitchers did a great job and our defense did a great job behind them,” Smith said. “ Sydney Terry pitched very well and then our little sophomore that followed her Avery Greeson threw the ball very well. We didn’t hit the ball like I hopes we would. We had a chance to score a couple of more runs but just couldn’t get that big hit when we needed it. But that’s the way the game goes sometimes and we’ll keep working on it and hopefully the next time we can get those key hits when we need them.”

Greeson finished with four strikeouts against the eight Cartersville hitters she faced.

In 2020, the Jackets won the Region 7 championship and Woodland, the team they opened league play against, came in second. Smith said he expects another close race this year with Woodland again being a serious contender.

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