Coming off perhaps its biggest victory of the season on Tuesday, the Cartersville softball team avoided a letdown against visiting Murray County, Region 7-AAA's winless last-place team, with a 3-2, extra-inning win on Thursday.
Lady Purple Hurricanes freshman shortstop Annie Holsomback drove a pitch to the right-field wall to score Annalyn Yantis, who began the eighth inning on second base as part of the tiebreaker rule. Holsomback's game-winning hit spared Cartersville its second loss in a week against one of the region's lower seeds -- the Lady Canes lost 2-1 last Thursday to No. 10-seed Southeast Whitfield.
"I think [you have] to find a way to win, and we did that," said Lady Canes coach Rick Holsomback, whose team won 9-3 Tuesday against No. 3-seed LaFayette. "I think there are a number of freshmen [on our team], but they've grown up a lot. That's a sign of a team that can be good, but good is the enemy of great. We're still a couple of [levels] shy of great, but we'll get there."
Cartersville fell behind the Lady Indians in the first inning as Shea Pendley, who led the game off with a double to the left-field wall, scored on a Lady Canes error.
Madison Floyd, Cartersville's freshman first baseman, singled to center field in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 1-all as Annie Holsomback, who led off the inning with a double to right, came in for the tying run.
Holsomback would score the Lady Canes' next run as well after reaching base on an error to start the bottom of the fourth. Maddie Geiger pushed her teammate across the plate with a single that slid past a Murray County infielder and into right field.
With a chance to increase its 2-1 lead, Cartersville left runners on second and third base to end the fifth inning.
In the top of the sixth, the Lady Indians got back-to-back hits from Ashlee Strong and Madison Wilcox, the latter a run-scoring double to left to bring the score to 2-2.
After Cartersville center fielder Hunter Irvin was left on base following her two-out double, Murray County had runners on second and third in the eighth after an error and wild pitch advanced Ariel Smith, who began the inning on second, and Pendley, who reached on an error.
Lady Canes pitcher Yantis induced a pop-out before third baseman Geiger, a sophomore, turned a Wilcox bunt attempt into a 5-2 forceout. Cartersville escaped the inning when Wilcox was automatically called out when she headed to second before standing in the middle of the basepath. In high school softball, a runner must make a decision to either head back to the previous base or advance to the next base.
With Yantis on second to start the bottom of the eighth, Mallory Jackson was hit by the ball on her bunt attempt for an out. The Lady Canes then scored the deciding run.
"I think playing that tough first part of the year really just set 'em on track and set 'em on a course, and they knew what they needed to do to be successful. So far, they've proving it. They've exceeded my expectations. I'm very proud of all of 'em, can't say enough about [them]," Rick Holsomback said of his team afterward.
Yantis pitched eight innings for the win, surrendering one earned run on four hits and one walk, to go along with her 12 strikeouts.
Lady Indians pitcher Ashlyn Davis threw a complete as well, taking the loss after giving up two earned runs and eight hits. She had three strikeouts.
Leading hitters for Cartersville were senior Tinsley Dobson, 1 for 3; Irvin, 2 for 4, double; Jackson, 1 for 4, double; Annie Holsomback, 2 for 4, two doubles, RBI; Geiger, 1 for 3, RBI; and Floyd, 1 for 3, RBI.
Pendley (1 for 4, double), Strong (1 for 4), Wilcox (1 for 4, double, RBI) and Haley Land (1 for 1) each had a hit for Murray County.
Thursday's win improved the Lady Canes to 8-8 overall, 6-5 in the region. Though the season has been a good one for Cartersville, which went winless a year ago, the team still has its sights set on making 2011 even better, but it will need to play better when the 12-team region tournament begins on Saturday.
"I don't know who we play yet," said Rick Holsomback, whose team could be either the sixth or seventh seed depending on tiebreakers. "I won't know until tomorrow morning, but we gotta play a little bit better than we did tonight, a little smarter and have some people come through. But, hey, I like our chances. We've played well against every team. If their attitudes are where they need to be, they can compete with anybody. They've proven that.
"If we execute like we have before, we've got a shot at making the state tournament, but it all [depends] on attitudes and how well we execute and do the little things. That makes the big things happen."