Resilient Lady Warriors work their way through losers bracket to win area softball title

The Class 4A, Area 12 softball tournament champion Cherokee County Lady Warriors. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – Cherokee County High School softball coach Brad Weaver said his Lady Warriors were heartbroken following their nine-inning one-run loss to Etowah in the Class 4A, Area 12 softball tournament on Monday. They wanted an opportunity to redeem themselves, and they did just that.

And then some.

The Lady Warriors won three games on Wednesday. They defeated Oneonta 8-2 to clinch a spot in next week’s East Regional at Sand Mountain Park in Albertville, but they weren’t satisfied with just making it. They avenged their 1-0 loss to Etowah by sweeping the Lady Blue Devils 9-2 and 16-5 to secure the area title.

“They just refused to lose,” Weaver said. “They had it in their minds that Etowah was not going to beat us tonight. When you get that set in your mind you can do really good things.

“These girls winning this area has our confidence through the roof right now, and as long as we stay confident we’re going to be fine.”

Cherokee County (26-13) scored at least a run in every inning except the fifth in the first game against Etowah on Wednesday. They took control against the same pitcher, Sydney Simpson, that dominated them on Monday by batting around and scoring four unearned first-inning runs – three of which came on wild pitches. The other run came courtesy of an error in left field.

Simpson lasted just 1/3 of an inning before being relieved by Elizabeth Gilliland, and the Lady Warriors kept plugging away at her too. They scored two more runs in the second and a run in the third to take a 7-0 lead.

Etowah finally found some offense in the fourth on back-to-back doubles with one out from Jaleigh DeVine and Laura Wood. Wood’s double scored DeVine and Lauren Farmer added a RBI-single to left to make it a 7-2 game.

The Lady Warriors got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth on another wild pitch. Macy Lea added a RBI-double to left in the sixth for the final. Lea led the Lady Warriors at the plate by going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. Audrey Haygood and Abby Lea also had a pair of hits for Cherokee County.

Abby Lea also picked up the win in the circle. She allowed just two runs on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

The momentum the Lady Warriors had gained in their first game against Etowah carried over into the second. Once again, the Lady Blue Devils started Simpson, and once again, the Lady Warriors rocked her at the plate. They scored at least a run in all six innings, capped off by a five-run top-of the sixth to put the game away.

Cherokee County chased Simpson from the game after 2 2/3 innings. Four of the five runs she allowed were on wild pitches. She also walked five straight batters in the second which led to four Lady Warrior runs.

“We knew Sydney was going to come back at us, and I don’t blame them one bit,” Weaver said. “We worked our tails off (Tuesday) at practice, worked on how to hit speed, how to hit movement, and it showed tonight.”

Grayson Tucker tallied three hits, including a RBI-double, and a walk for the Lady Warriors in the second game against Etowah. Raechel Russell, Emma Hill, Lanie Williams and Bristol Bass each collected a pair of hits. Samantha Stubbs also contributed a two-run double and a walk. Macy Lea and Haygood walked twice.

Hill earned the win after going the distance. She allowed five runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts.

Wood topped the Lady Blue Devil hitters by going 2-for-3 with a three-run homer in the fifth and a double in the first. Maggy Bennett delivered a pair of singles and was hit by a pitch. Bella Owen walked twice.

Hill also earned the win against Oneonta in the Lady Warriors’ first game of the day after working five innings. She gave up two runs on three hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. She was relieved by Tucker in the sixth, who threw two hitless innings with a walk.

Hill was also 3-for-4 at the plate with a three-run double in the fifth. Russell was also 3-for-4.

Every Lady Warrior in the lineup had at least one hit against Oneonta.

The Lady Redskins held a 2-1 advantage in the top of the third on a two-run homer to center by Gracyn Clifton, but Cherokee County rallied for a run in the bottom half of the third, two more in the fourth and four in the fifth for the final.

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