The primary advantage for Cartersville, after an early litmus test, will be whatever takeaway the Lady Canes cull from a humbling loss. The hosts hope to be in a position to make the playoffs this season, and their season — and Region 5-AAA — opener is a good place to start.
“Well, we’ve only had one team practice and today was a good lesson learned,” third-year Cartersville coach Rick Holsomback said following his team’s loss Saturday. “We had opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize on ’em and that’s huge. When the team gives you chances, you gotta take advantage. We had [runners on] first and second [base with] one out, and we didn’t do our job. That [inning] could change the momentum of the game, so [we] learned a lot.”
After the Lady Mountaineers opened up a 6-0 lead, the Lady Canes had a chance to respond in the bottom of the fourth, but ultimately faltered. Mallory Jackson dropped in a one-out single to shallow right field, but when Kennedy Bailey’s double hit the left-field wall — which both Jackson and North Murray’s outfielder appeared to misjudge — Cartersville’s lead base runner ended up being gunned out on a relay throw to third.
With just one runner on base — a pinch runner at second — Lady Mountaineer pitcher Hannah Hensley induced a groundout to end the inning with her team still up by six.
The Lady Canes never got closer to scoring than that inning, as North Murray added its seventh run in the fifth on an error before scoring three more in the sixth — which featured a two-run double to left from Kara Deal as well as another run on an error.
Jackson hit a two-out double to right-center field in the sixth, but was stranded on base as the game came to a close. The sophomore first baseman led her team with a 2-for-3 effort, but the team as whole finished with three total hits — with Bailey’s fourth-inning double serving as the only other hit.
“We gotta make adjustments at the plate a lot quicker and a lot faster, so they did a good job adjusting and they can hit,” Holsomback said of the Lady Mountaineers.
North Murray got hits from Megan Pittman (2 for 4), Baylee Sutton (2 for 4, double, two RBIs), Deal (1 for 3, walk, double, two RBIs), Amber Bandy (2 for 3), Hensley (2 for 4, RBI) and Tori Stainton (2 for 4, RBI).
Pittman scored the Lady Mountaineers’ first run in the third on a throwing error, and North Murray tacked on five runs in the top of the fourth behind Hensley’s RBI single, Stainton’s two-run single and Sutton’s two-run double, a bloop hit.
Hensley (six innings, four strikeouts, one walk) allowed just one baserunner through the first three innings, with Cartersville leadoff hitter Kailah Rain getting on base due to Hensley’s throwing error. The Lady Canes didn’t fare much better from that point on and had to play without Rain, who suffered a first-inning injury sliding back to first base just as the ball hit her in the ribs.
“ … She came back and I think she’s gonna be OK,” Holsomback said. “I don’t think there’s any broken ribs or anything. Hopefully it’s just a bad bruise.”
As for the team’s proverbial bruise, it too should be OK.
“We made some silly mistakes, I guess freshmen mistakes, if you will. We just gotta practice and get those things worked out, so we’ll get ’em worked out,” Holsomback said. “We had too many errors and you can’t make errors against teams like this. That’s just pretty simple.”
The Lady Canes’ errors — six, unofficially — made for a long day for pitcher Annalyn Yantis, who gave up five earned runs on 11 hits, one walk and one hit batter. She had seven strikeouts.
“ … I told the girls earlier, ‘Hey, you gotta a job to do. You gotta perform.’ We’re gonna put a team out there that’s expected to win and that’s what I’m gonna do. I know it puts pressure on ’em, but both teams have pressure and it’s [about] how we respond,” Holsomback said.
When asked if Cartersville played like a team with the knowledge of heightened expectations, the coach couldn’t say for sure.
“Who knows? I chalk it up to, hey, [it’s] just a bad game. I think when one of your starters and leaders goes out of the game, they just got a little deflated,” Holsomback continued. “We gotta mature a little bit quicker than that. But, hey, it’s all part of the growing process, and [we] had some bright spots.”
The Lady Canes (0-1, 0-1) will look for their first win in the Marietta Blue Devil Invitational, which begins Monday with Cartersville playing Roswell in a 7:30 p.m. game.