LaGrange softball team stays hot
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’re hitting their stride.
With the regular season starting to wind down and the state playoffs approaching, the LaGrange Lady Grangers are in the midst of a challenging stretch of games.
So far at least, the Lady Grangers have done an outstanding job of navigating their way through a formidable slate of opponents.
Since losing to Northside-Columbus 5-4 on Sept. 9, LaGrange has won four of its past five games, including Tuesday’s 18-0 home win over an over-matched Jordan squad in a Region 2-AAAA game.
Before the Jordan game, LaGrange had recent wins over Harris County, Northwest Whitfield and Central-Carroll, teams expected to make deep runs in the state playoffs.
On Monday, LaGrange went on the road and beat Central-Carroll 6-0 in a showdown between teams that shared the same region from 2015 to 2019.
This group of LaGrange players had never won at Central, but they changed that in a big way with the shutout win.
Earlier this season, LaGrange lost to Central-Carroll 2-0 at home.
“I’ve never seen them hit like that against Central, and it was timely hitting,” said LaGrange head coach Gabby Heath. “And Camden (Smith) pitched fantastic, and the defense was great. It was like everything was there.”
Smith, a senior who has been starting for four seasons, threw a five-hit shutout on a field where she and her teammates have struggled over the years.
“I feel like it’s the best I’ve thrown all season,” Smith said. “It felt great.”
Madison Dennis, one of six seniors on the LaGrange roster, hit a home run to help her team upend Central.
“Since they were previously in our region, they were always the team we had to beat,” Dennis said. “To actually beat them felt really good.”
Heath, knowing there would be a fair amount of one-sided games in the region, put together a rugged non-region schedule, and many of the toughest games are coming at the tail end of the regular season.
The hope is that those games will help prepare LaGrange for the tough road ahead in the state playoffs.
“This stretch of around seven games, we intentionally put it toward the end,” Heath said. “We knew if we didn’t show up it was going to be ugly.”
Meanwhile against region opponents, LaGrange continues to dominate.
LaGrange improved to 4-0 in the region with Tuesday’s win, and it has won those four games by a combined score of 53-2.
Coming off an intense game against Central, Dennis said the goal was to maintain that intensity against Jordan.
“It’s just about staying locked in, staying focused, and keeping the energy up,” Dennis said.
LaGrange started quickly with 15 runs in the first inning, and it added three more runs in the bottom of the first.
The game ended because of the run rule when Jordan didn’t score in the top of the third inning.
In two innings, LaGrange finished with 16 hits, including eight extra-base hits, and eight different players had at least one hit.
Kate Asbell was one of the leading offensive contributors with three hits and four RBIs, and Dennis had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs.
Abby Vanhoose had three hits including two doubles with an RBI and three runs scored, and Holly Lynn had two hits with a double and two RBIs.
Jacee Marable had a double and a triple while driving in two runs.
Kaylee Bryant had two hits including a triple with an RBI, Kirsten Williams had an RBI triple, and Malone Aldridge had a hit and a walk.
Bryant pitched a three-inning no-hitter for LaGrange with three strikeouts.