Through four innings, Cartersville softball found itself locked in a tight and tense elimination game against Troup County, which it had beaten three of the four times the two have played in 2017.
But in the fifth, with two outs and the bases loaded, Lady Canes pitcher Colbi Ballard walked and hit consecutive batters as two more runs scored. By the time three more runs, on back-to-back-singles, scored, Cartersville found itself too far behind, going on to lose11-3.
The loss, coming in the region tournament, eliminated the Lady Canes and ended their season.
“Not the outcome we want to see,” head coach Shannon Dietrich said.
Anna Kate McElhaney started the game pitching for the Lady Canes, but control issues early on — she walked the first two batters of the game and hit a batter later on — forced her out of the game with the Lady Canes trailing 4-0.
Cartersville got two back in the second, as Lauren McElhaney scored on a Troup County error. Anna Kate McElhaney scored the next batter on a Mattie Johnson grounder.
Those would be the only runs Cartersville would muster until the seventh inning. It was in a broad context an anomaly, given that the Lady Canes have posted double digit runs in two of their matchups this season against Troup County.
“[Troup County] came to play today and made their adjustments over the past two days,” Dietrich said. “They came out swinging bats like a totally different team today.”
After the fifth, Troup County added two more in the seventh to get to double digits themselves. Cartersville’s last run also came in the seventh. on a Paris Poston RBI single.
Troup County matched its hit total with its runs scored at eleven, while Cartersville had six hits.
The game, Dietrich said, was indicative of the things the team struggled with throughout the year.
“Today was no different from losses we experience,” Dietrich said. “We tend to put people on, we get behind, and we have a hard time coming back and chipping away at the score.”
Dietrich was also ready to turn the page, thanking her team for committing and buying in to what she and her coaches wanted to do.
The biggest takeaway, she said, was that for as talented as this Lady Canes team was, that can only take a team so far, that execution is as important as showing up.
And now, the Lady Canes’ focus turns to a new season and fall 2018, as the time to start practicing and training, in Dietrich’s eyes, begins now.
“Nothing we can really say that’s going to make that moment any easier,” Dietrich said. “This is when another season picks up and we start working on our flaws and downsides. Next year, there will be a big focus on keeping ourselves in the game more.”