Cedartown’s offense has taken a big step forward in the past two weeks. The Lady Bulldogs, who mustered only a handful of four-baggers in the first couple weeks of the season, have now hit eight home runs since Aug. 25.
Each of the eight dingers came between Aug. 25 and Aug. 29. Alexas Poole crushed a home run in the first game of the Region 7-4A series with Central-Carroll. Roslyn Blankenship hit a solo homer in Game 2 before sophomore Taylor Westmoreland hit her first dinger — a walk-off three-run shot — to win the game. Marycille Brumby recorded a grand slam in the series finale on Aug. 27 as well.
Cedartown tallied four homers in their Aug. 29 tournament at Haralson County. Alexas Poole hit two two-run home runs against previously undefeated Mt. Zion-Carroll in Game 1, giving Cedartown a 9-1 win. Then, in Game 2, Marycille Brumby hit a two-run homer before a Taylor Westmoreland grand slam helped Cedartown to an 8-4 victory over Haralson County.
Though the Lady Bulldogs have been homer-less since Aug. 29, the bats appear to be improved in the past week. Cedartown has hit numerous doubles and triples while raising the team batting average in their region series win over Pickens.
Despite this success, head coach Eddie Gambrell is still not completely satisfied with the offense.
“I believe in every one of those girls as players and as batters. I know they can and will do better at the plate,” Gambrell said. “We can be very special offensively but I still don’t think we’ve clicked.
“We swung the bats real well at Haralson County. We went down there with a purpose to get the offense clicking because they had been very inconsistent,” Gambrell said. “Against Pickens in Game 1 we had plenty of opportunities to stretch that lead out and just couldn’t do it. We didn’t swing well at all in Game 2 but did a lot better in Game 3.”
Some of the usual suspects — Poole and Brumby, who are veteran power hitters with tons of success in the past — accounted for five of the eight homers during the final week of August. The second-year coach stated he is not surprised the leaders of the team are also leading the way at the plate.
“You always need seniors to lead a program, and even though she’s a junior I can loop Brumby in that group with them. Since June through today, my senior class has been leading by example day-to-day,” Gambrell said. “A couple of the older players haven’t started the way they wanted to, but when you have success and then struggle you have two options: you can either put pressure on yourself or work harder. They work harder every single day.”
Blankenship and Westmoreland both hit their first varsity home runs in the Game 2 victory versus Central-Carroll on Aug. 25, with the latter adding a second homer in the Haralson County tournament.
“Roslyn had been great last year, batting over .400 at the leadoff spot. Homers are great but she has a purpose to get on base and get into scoring position and she does that well. She has been close to hitting home runs before. She actually hit one at the Dalton tournament that they called back. But regardless she has been outstanding.” Gambrell said.
“Taylor, as a sophomore, is only going to get better. She has a lot of pop in her bat, but what has impressed me is how outstanding she has been behind the plate,” Gambrell said. “She has never played catcher and I cannot be more proud. I think she puts a lot of pressure on herself and gets in her head sometimes, but the past two weeks she has been great.”
Cedartown’s offense might be catching fire at just the right time. After taking two of three from Pickens last week, the Lady Bulldogs (9-4, 3-3 7-4A) will play a three-game Region 7-4A series against the No. 1 team in Class 4A, defending state champion Heritage-Catoosa (8-1, 3-0).
“I actually just spoke with the team about that matchup, and they know what to expect against Heritage,” Gambrell said. “I believe having the doubleheader at Cedartown, in front of the home crowd, is definitely a good thing. I want them to look at it as not only a challenge, but a ‘make a statement’ moment. They’re very excited about competing with a team of their caliber.”
Cedartown hosts the Lady Generals at CHS on Tuesday, Sept. 8, with Game 1 of the doubleheader starting at 4:30 p.m. The third and final matchup will be played at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Ringgold.
“People keep telling me how much they enjoy watching the girls play,” Gambrell said. “I just smile because I know they still have even more potential as a team.”