Woodland, Cartersville aces square off
by David Royal
Jun 26, 2014 | 1141 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Woodland and Cartersville High varsity softball teams collided Thursday in a pitching duel that featured stout defensive play and some offensive fireworks that sparkled in many ways except when it came to breaking their 0-0 tie.

After the matchup, Woodland head coach Colman Roberts was clearly energized by the part of him that loves great pitching and defensive softball play.

“You had a chance to see two of the best pitchers around here,” Roberts said. “I thought both of them looked good.”

The part of the coach that likes a good offensive performance wasn’t so thrilled, however.

“We’re trying to fill some holes and see who can hit that type of pitching because that’s what we see every time we play,” the dean of Bartow County’s softball coaches said. “We did some good things, but we’ve got to be more productive at the plate and move runners over with two strikes. We talk about these things all the time.”

He was complimentary of the pitching effort, however.

“I thought [Woodland’s] Brooke [Rogers] looked good. I thought [Cartersville’s] Annalyn [Yantis] did a good job, too. Seeing those two type pitchers in the summer on a muggy weekday morning is pretty nice.

“Some people would think that’s a boring game, but it wasn’t. In softball, if you get two quick pitchers out there, you have a quick game.”

Emily Walker, Cartersville’s acting head softball coach, also credited the pitching matchup with defining the game.

“It was certainly a pitchers’ duel,” Walker said. “My girls played real hard. We just didn’t string hits together. We put a few together but not quite enough. We just didn’t get the last person to come through. We’re well-matched teams, Cartersville against Woodland.”

Both teams made contact with their bats but neither could string enough hits together to alter the goose eggs nesting on the scoreboard.

The first threat came from Woodland, which put runners at first and second in the bottom of the first inning with no out. Yantis induced two popups sandwiched around a strikeout to strand the runners.

Woodland got a runner aboard in the third thanks to a walk from Yantis. The Lady Cane responded with a strikeout, an out on a fielder’s choice and a popup to the third baseman.

With two outs, Cartersville mounted a threat to score in the fourth inning when Yantis singled into shallow left field and outran the putout attempt. Kennedy Bailey doubled to left field to put runners at second and third only to have Rogers put out the fire with a strikeout.

The Woodland pitcher then tried to help her own cause by coaxing a base on balls from Yantis but the Lady Cane responded by drawing two catchable fly balls and striking out the frame’s final batter.

The Lady Canes got a runner on base in the fifth when Michaela Crowe was hit by a pitch, but one batter popped up to first baseman Valerie Glass and the next two were forced at first.

Woodland’s Taylor Calhoun singled to left to get on base with one out in the bottom of the frame, but the next batter hit into a double play to end the inning.

Cartersville threatened in the sixth when Yantis hit a double with two outs. That threat ended when Bailey hit a fly that was caught on the run by Woodland outfielder Bailey Roberts just shy of the home run fence.

Woodland got two runners aboard in the bottom of the inning but that threat was ended by a popup to the shortstop.

The game provided both coaches something to think about.

Cartersville showed it has some potent hitters against Woodland.

“Our two through six spots, we’ve got some big power hitters,” Walker admitted.

She said participating in Woodland’s softball tournament this week at the school has been fun for her girls.

“We’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been good competition,” Walker said. “There’s also been a few games where I could get my younger girls in and that’s been nice.”

Walker got a close look at her pitching ace, too.

“[Annalyn] did a good job. She walked a few that she shouldn’t have,” Walker said. “She needs to work on letting her team play defense behind her, but she went after them when she needed to. Nobody scored. I don’t even know if they got anybody on third. She got out of it when she had to, when she got in trouble.

“She’s mentally tough and she’s strong, and she always battles through and she’s a great hitter.”

She said Rogers had a good outing against Cartersville.

“She was strong, too,” she said. “It took a while for us to adjust to her. She’s got really good movement, good spin.”

Roberts said he expects good things from Cartersville based on what he’s seen this week.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “I got a chance to see them two days ago and they hit the ball. They play in a tough region like we do, but I think they’re going to be fine.”

Cartersville and Woodland both closed out their seasons a year ago in the state playoffs.

Woodland had players stepping up with their performances, including new second baseman Courtney Godfrey, centerfielder Bailey Roberts and shortstop Kereston Franklin.

The coach said his whole team has been getting a workout so far this summer. “We played last week in Twin Creeks. We played 12 games over there, and we did fairly well. We’ve got a long way to go to be ready for the season.”

He said this week’s tournament comes at a good time for his team.

“After today they get a break for a couple of weeks and then there won’t be any more breaks,” he said. “We’re going to work all of the kinks out and be ready to go at Kennesaw Mountain on Aug. 7.

“We’ll give them a couple of weeks off and then it’s back to work.”