'Cats tie E. Paulding for 2nd in region

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The Woodland High softball team beating Paulding County 12-0 last week was expected. Paulding came into that game with one win in region play and near the basement of the standings.

However, Woodland replicated the 12-0, run-rule win Monday, this time in a much more significant game at East Paulding.

The Lady Raiders entered Monday one game ahead of the Wildcats for second in the Region 7-AAAAA standings and had defeated Woodland earlier in the year.

Now, with the win, Woodland ties East Paulding at 7-2 in the standings and has taken control for the race for the second seed in the region tournament.

The Wildcats have won their last seven games and 12 of their last 13.

After two scoreless innings to begin Monday's game, Woodland broke the drought in a big way with a four-run third. Kendyl Hardin continued her home run binge with a two-run blast after Caroline Higdon doubled home two runners — one was Ansley Evans after Evans doubled the at bat before.

Hardin now has six home runs on the year and three in the last three games.

Woodland added another run in the fourth when Bella Carnes reached on an error, advanced on a groundball and another error, and scored on Higdon's sacrifice fly.

Hardin was once again involved in a rally in the fifth, this time leading off with a single. Skylar Chappell followed two at bats later with a double to score Hardin, and after an error and a groundout, Chappell came around to score to make it a 7-0 ballgame.

Woodland's biggest inning was the sixth, as the Wildcats scored five runs on four hits, a hit batter and a walk. Higdon led off and was hit by a pitch, Jordan Duck then singled, Hardin walked and Hannah Miller singled to score one run and keep the bases loaded. 

Two batters later, Morgan Cooper doubled to left-center field to empty the bases and make the score 11-0. The very next batter, Carnes doubled to left field to score Cooper and give the game a final of 12-0, helping end the game an inning early due to the run rule.

In the circle, Sarah Baynard was lights-out again. Her last six starts have been complete games, and she has not allowed an earned run in three of her last seven starts.

Baynard pitched six innings before the run rule took effect and ended the game. She allowed five hits, struck out four and, as has become her modus operandi, she allowed no walks. She has now allowed just two walks in 29 innings pitched during region play.

At the plate, Miller finished 3-for-4; Cooper went 2-for-3 with a walk, three RBIs and a double; Higdon went 1-for-2 with two runs scored, three RBIs, a double, a sac fly and a hit by pitch; and Hardin went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, a walk and two RBIs on her home run.

With the win, Woodland improves to 13-5 on the year and 7-2 in region play, tied with East Paulding for second and two games back of Carrollton for first. The Wildcats will host Carrollton today looking to continue their hot streak.