-Softball's terrific season comes to end in State Playoffs
The LCHS varsity softball team’s terrific 2018 season came to an end in the first round of the GHSA Softball State Playoffs when the Lady Indians lost game three of a best-of-three series against the Ringgold Lady Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the LCHS softball field.
After splitting the first two games versus Ringgold, the Lady Indians fell to the Lady Tigers 12-3 in a run-rule shortened game three.
Despite the season-ending defeat, LCHS head softball coach Joseph Jones expressed his pride in what his players accomplished during the 2018 season.
“I am very proud of our girls,” said Jones. “At the beginning of the year, we set some goals. One of them was to get a bye in the first round of the region tournament. We accomplished that. Another one was to host a home playoff game. We did that. Another one was to win a State Playoff game. We did that. Another one was to win 20 games or more, and we did that too. Obviously there were some goals that we didn’t get, but this year was great. This was the most fun I’ve had coaching in a while because of them. They’re fun to watch, fun to be around, they’re competitive and they’re good at the game of softball.”
The Lady Indians started the best-of-three State Playoff series against Ringgold with a doubleheader on Friday, Oct. 12.
After two and a half scoreless innings in game one, the Lady Indians broke the 0-0 deadlock in the bottom of the third when Evee Dornhecker connected for a RBI single to left field which gave Lumpkin a 1-0 advantage.
The lead wouldn’t last long as Ringgold answered back in the top of the fourth with a two-run home run off a Lauren English pitch that caught a little too much of the plate. The blast by the Lady Tigers gave Ringgold a 2-1 lead headed to the bottom of the fourth.
In the bottom half of the frame, the Lady Indians received a huge RBI double to the right field gap from the bat of Haley Voyles which evened the score at 2-2.
However, Ringgold’s lineup kept battling and was able to put two more runs on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth to retake the lead at 4-2.
The score remained the same going into the bottom of the seventh. Down by two runs and down to their last three outs, the Lady Indians needed a big hit in order to get back in the contest. Lumpkin got that big hit in the form of a two-run home run off the bat of Dornhecker to tie the game at 4-4.
Ringgold was able to hold Lumpkin scoreless for the remainder of the seventh, but Dornhecker’s bomb forced the game into extra innings.
The Lady Tigers broke out for three runs in the top of the eighth to take a 7-4 advantage.
Unfortunately for Lumpkin, the Lady Indians would not be able to produce the same magic they had in the bottom of the seventh and were sent down in order to end the game, giving Ringgold the victory by a final score of 7-4.
Down a game in the best-of-three series, the Lady Indians needed better production in game two in order to keep their season alive.
Lumpkin got just that in the top of the first in game two.
Brighton Harder started the inning off with a patient at-bat to draw a walk. Once on base, Harder quickly stole second to get herself in scoring position. Izzy Kinard, who swung a solid bat for the Lady Indians all season, legged out an infield single to third to give Lumpkin runners at the corners.
The Lady Indians went up 1-0 off a double steal in which Harder scored and Kinard was called safe at second on a close play.
Dornhecker followed with a single to left field to give the Lady Indians runners on the corners again. A catcher’s indifference allowed Dornhecker to swipe second and put two runners in scoring position.
English followed with a walk to load the bases for Lita Sills.
Sills took advantage of the opportunity and rocketed a RBI single to right field to extend the Lumpkin lead to 2-0.
With the bases still loaded, Natalie Robinson connected for a two-run double to the gap in left center to up the Lady Indians’ lead to 4-0.
After Robinson’s double, Ringgold’s starting pitcher got out of the jam with three quick outs.
The Lady Tigers were able to get a run back in the bottom of the second with a solo home run to left, cutting the Lady Indians’ advantage to 4-1.
The score remained the same until the top of the fifth when Robinson belted a monster shot over the center field fence that landed near the scoreboard for a solo home run to put Lumpkin up 5-1.
Ringgold answered back with a solo home run of its own in the bottom half of the inning, lessening the Lumpkin lead to 5-2.
The 5-2 lead would prove to be enough for Lumpkin to earn a win in game two of the series, tying the series at a game apiece and forcing a decisive third game.
The two teams took to the diamond at the LCHS softball field on Saturday, Oct. 13, for the third and decisive game of the series.
Ringgold took control from the start, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning to take a 4-0 lead.
However, the Lady Indians battled back in the bottom of the first and scored three runs of their own to cut the Ringgold advantage to 4-3.
Lumpkin received a RBI fielder’s choice from Dornhecker and a two-run single to right center off the bat of Robinson in the three-run inning for the Lady Indians.
While the Lady Tigers’ lineup continued to produce; scoring two runs in the second, two runs in the third and four runs in the fourth; the Lady Indians’ lineup was unable to get anything else going in the ballgame.
The result was a 12-3 Lumpkin loss in a run-rule shortened game.
The loss knocked the Lady Indians out of the State Playoffs and ended their 2018 season.
“It was a great run and fun while it lasted,” Jones said.
The Lady Indians will lose four senior players from this year’s squad as they now prepare for next season.
“We’re going to miss these seniors who’ve been in the program for sure,” Jones said.
With a majority of the team being underclassmen, Jones is highly optimistic about what the team will be able to accomplish next season.
“It should be good,” Jones said. “I’m excited about the future because we did set that precedent that Lumpkin County softball is going to expect to win when they hit the dirt. In the past, I think we thought it. But, any team that wins over 20 games, they’re going to naturally get used to winning and that’s huge. It’s huge for them to step on the field and think we’re going to win today. It’s a huge motivator and calm them too. It relaxes them and they just know that’s the expectation they have.”
The Lady Indians finished their 2018 campaign with a 21-10 overall record and another State Playoff appearance, making it a highly successful year for the team.
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