The Lady Canes made the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, but they fell short by losing the first two games of the best-of-three series to Oconee County, 4-1 and 2-0, Wednesday night at the Cartersville Sports Complex.
“We just didn’t come through tonight, but looking back on the last four years, these seniors have been great. They went 0-13 and now they were in the Sweet 16,” head coach Rick Holsomback said. “It’s amazing work. I’m very proud of their efforts. They should be proud of the efforts knowing that no one else has ever [reached the Sweet 16]. I’m very excited.”
The player of the night was Oconee County pitcher Jessie Michael. Michael went 3 for 5 in the two games with two walks while holding the Cartersville offense to one run in 14 innings while in the pitcher’s circle. She had 17 strikeouts on the day.
“She’s a good pitcher and she’s what kept us off [the bases] all night and hats off to her,” Holsomback said.
Cartersville had just four hits in the first game, but had its chances to score runs in the second game and could not come through with runners in scoring position. In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings of the second game, the Lady Canes had runners on second and third base with just one out. Michael was able to work out of all three jams to eventually shut out Cartersville. The Lady Canes left seven runners on base in the second game.
“We had several missed opportunities and that’s just been our Achilles’ heel all season,” Holsomback said. “When we score early, we’re good, but we have to have those clutch hits in key situations.”
The Lady Canes did not have an error in either of the games and Cartersville’s Annalyn Yantis pitched well to only allow six runs on the night to an Oconee County offense that had been averaging seven runs a game in the playoffs.
However, it would not be enough as a Cartersville girls program has been eliminated in the state tournament in each of the past three sports seasons by Oconee County. Cartersville’s girls basketball and soccer programs were each eliminated last year by Oconee.
Mallory Jackson and Taylor Waits each led the Lady Canes with two hits. Jackson had the only extra-base hit of the game with a double in the fourth inning of the second game.
Still, Holsomback is proud of his team for reaching the Sweet 16 and going 16-13 in 2013.
“I’m more proud of the girls because they didn’t give up, and that’s a character trait and great life lesson,” Holsomback said. “We still had chances, but sometimes it doesn’t work out.”