However, all the Lady Tigers played inspired ball Thursday on senior night in their 8-0 win over Excel, honoring Mallorie Collum and Macy Upshaw with a ceremony, flowers and a victory.
“It feels great to win on senior night,” Collum said. “We’ve worked really hard for this so I’m glad to go out with a win.”
Collum had a hit, a run scored and was hit by a pitch in her three plate appearances Thursday. Upshaw walked and also scored a run.
“It’s definitely our best win. It’s our last home game of the season, so it’s always good to come out and be able to win and do well for those girls, who have worked so hard for us,” Adairsville coach Kandace Bruno said. “[Mallorie] was here last year. My first year, she bought into everything I was trying to do and she has continued to be a leader. Upshaw has been a leader as well. She bought into our program. When she’s in the dugout, her nose is in the fence and she’s in the game. When she’s in the field, she’s doing everything she can and she brought a good stick to the plate.”
After a scoreless first inning, Adairsville’s Morgan Creel drove in the first run of the game in the second with a single to center field. An Excel defensive miscommunication earlier in the inning allowed a runner to get on base and eventually score on the Creel base hit.
“The only thing that bothers me is it’s not physical. They do those things every day,” Excel coach Chad Parker said of his young team’s defensive miscues. “It’s just a mental approach. That’s where we have to grow as a team.”
Another error allowed Collum to score in the third inning and kept the Tigers alive for Hannah Knapp. Knapp came through with runners on second and third base and two outs with a two-run single.
“It’s always good to see offense, especially because sometimes we’ve struggled,” Bruno said. “Everybody who came up to the plate this game could have got a hit. They were hitting together as a team. They did their jobs.”
Victoria Davis continued Adairsville’s clutch situational hitting as she came through on an RBI single in the fourth inning with two outs. The run made the score 5-0.
The Lady Tigers scored three more runs in the fifth inning to end the game with an untraditional walk-off hit by MacKenzie Stephenson as the game was called due to the eight-run mercy rule. Creel had her second RBI single of the game and Kayla Bailey did her job by advancing Creel home on an RBI groundout.
“Logan [O’Neal] hit to the right side, Kayla Bailey got the run in, so they definitely did it together tonight and that’s always good to see,” Bruno said. “They might not have gotten base hits, but they moved the runners over.”
For Excel, Thursday’s game did not go as planned, both defensively and offensively. The Lady Eagles had the bases loaded in the third inning and were not able to produce a run. They also had two costly errors which resulted in five unearned runs.
“If there’s a change of speed of a pitcher, if it’s loud, or if a team gets fired up or whatever, we just have to be able to make adjustments. We haven’t been doing that as the year has gone on. When things are going well, we’ve been going really good. When things are going bad, we let them get to us,” Parker said. “Bases loaded, second and third, we’ve been preaching hit the ball the other way and score that run, but we’re continuing to pull the ball to the third baseman and not scoring that run. That’s just where we have to grow as we get older. We have to get more mature in the game.”
For Adairsville, the win may provide some momentum going into next season.
“We’ve showed that we can hit together and defensively we can be solid,” Bruno said. “We’re still young, so we have things to work out, but they definitely have the potential. We can’t ask for anything more than to have the girls that we have, with all the potential that they have, because I’m sure they’ll be doing great things.”
“I’m really proud. I thought they came along really great and I’ve enjoyed watching them come along,” Collum said of watching her young teammates develop. “They’re a really great group to be around. I’m really excited to see what else they do once I’m gone.”
Bruno attributes much of the team’s development to Collum and Upshaw’s leadership.
“Well, I try to be a leader,” Collum said. “I just try to be a great role model that they can look up to.”
“We’re definitely going to miss those girls” Bruno said. “It’s definitely good for those girls to go out on a win and a good note.”
Bailey lifts Cass
As Courtney Bailey goes, so does the Cass High softball team.
The senior pitcher has stepped up her game lately and the Lady Colonels have responded with four wins in a row, including Thursday’s 4-3 win on senior night against Darlington.
Bailey pitched all seven innings of the game, allowing just one earned run while striking out 10. She gave up just three hits and a walk in the game and pitched around three errors.
She also produced at the plate with two hits, two runs and drove in a run in the fifth inning.
The back-and-forth game saw three lead changes, but the Lady Colonels were able to pull away for good in the fifth thanks to an error and Bailey’s single.
In addition to Bailey’s performance, senior Camey Kirkland had a hit and scored a run. Fellow seniors Brie Heaton and Hannah Kirkpatrick also had hits.