Gen­er­als slug their way to Re­gion 6-AAAA soft­ball crown

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

Soft­ball teams want to be peak­ing at the right time and the Her­itage Gen­er­als couldn’t have picked a more op­por­tune time to be play­ing their best soft­ball of the sea­son.

The Navy-and-Red capped an im­pres­sive 4-0 run in the Re­gion 6-AAAA tour­na­ment last Wed­nes­day night by out­slug­ging top-ranked North­west Whit­field, 138, in the cham­pi­onship game at Her­itage Point Park in Dal­ton. It was the sec­ond win over the Lady Bru­ins in as many nights.

The first win over North­west came on the arm of fresh­man pitcher Rachel Gib­son, who struck out 15 of the 18 bat­ters she faced in a six-in­ning per­fect game, end­ing in a 9-0 Her­itage vic­tory. The ninth-ranked Gen­er­als also ham­mered sev­en­thranked Ridge­land, 16-1, in a win­ners’ bracket game on Mon­day af­ter dis­patch­ing Gilmer, 7-2, in Mon­day’s opener.

Since a 6-4 loss at LaFayette on Sept. 26, Her­itage has won six in a row and outscored its op­po­nents, 73-12, dur­ing that stretch. Eight of the 12 runs they have sur­ren­dered came in the fi­nals against the Lady Bru­ins.

This is the third re­gion ti­tle in the last four sea­sons for the Gen­er­als, who will take a 20-8 record into their Class AAAA state play­off opener this Wed­nes­day (Oct. 11).

“They just trust each other and that’s re­ally to key to it all,” head coach Tan­ner Moore said. “When things are go­ing wrong and you are try­ing to fig­ure things out, you just have to stick to­gether. You just have to put your trust in one an­other and know that what you are do­ing is the right thing, and that if you keep do­ing the right thing and knock­ing on the door, it will even­tu­ally open up.”

Or you can sim­ply beat the door down, which is what the Gen­er­als did the en­tire tour­na­ment.

Her­itage bat­ted a whop­ping .449 as a team (53-of-118) in the four tour­na­ment games, pound­ing out 12 dou­bles and smack­ing 10 home­runs, in­clud­ing four more roundtrip­pers on Wed­nes­day.

Kaylie Frogge was 11-of-15 (.733) in the tour­na­ment with eight RBIs. Madi Mor­ris was 10-for-15 (.667) with three homers - all in the game against Ridge­land - and drove in nine runs. Rea­gan Ar­mour had a homer and six runs

bat­ted in, while Rachel Gib­son was 7-for-13 (.538) at the plate with four dou­bles, two homers and five RBIs.

“We have a cer­tain ap­proach at the plate and it took a while for them to ad­just to that,” Moore added. “But they fi­nally fig­ured it out and I think they fully un­der­stand it now. They’ve re­ally bought into it and done an awe­some job.”

North­west (26-4) got out to a 3-0 lead in the ti­tle game on a three­run homer by KayLeigh Fitzger­ald. But the first homer of short­stop Ans­ley Bice’s ca­reer in the bot­tom of the first

pulled the Gen­er­als to within a run and they would tie things up later in the frame as Rea­gan Ar­mour brought in a run on a ground­out.

From there, it turned into a game of “Can You Top This?” as both teams traded big hit af­ter big hit.

North­west re­took a 4-3 lead in the top of the third, only to see Her­itage an­swer on Frogge’s two-run, see­ing-eye sin­gle. The Lady Bru­ins would score the ty­ing run a half-in­ning later and had two run­ners on base, but Gib­son would take over for starter Tae­lyn Bates in the cir­cle and strike out the fi­nal two hit­ters to get out of a jam.

Gib­son put her team back in front with a one­out solo homer in the bot­tom of the fourth, but the Lady Bru­ins showed off their cham­pi­onship pedi­gree by scratch­ing out a run in the top of the fifth and re­tak­ing the lead, 8-6, on Fitzger­ald’s sec­ond long ball of the night in the top of the sixth.

That lead, how­ever, wouldn’t last.

Her­itage stepped on the ac­cel­er­a­tor and blew past the Lady Bru­ins with a seven-run sixth in­ning. Mal­lory Lowe’s ground-rule dou­ble and Gib­son’s sub­se­quent two-run blast knot­ted the game, 8-8, and with Bice at sec­ond fol­low­ing a sin­gle and a walk by Mor­ris, birth­day girl Katie Proc­tor de­liv­ered

an RBI-sin­gle back through the box that would be­come the game-win­ning hit.

The Gen­er­als would make sure of the out­come later in the in­ning. Frogge hopped all over a pitch one bat­ter later, knock­ing in three as she col­lected her first ca­reer dinger, while an er­ror on a tough in­field chop­per would bring in Ar­mour for the fi­nal run of the night.

North­west would put run­ners on the cor­ners with one out in the top of the sev­enth, but Gib­son would get a strike­out and in­duce a pop-up in foul ter­ri­tory on the third base side that was gloved by Bice on the run near the fence to end the game.

Moore said his team didn’t panic, even be­ing down twice in the game.

“We just kept re­as­sur­ing them that we are never out of a game if we stick to­gether and take it one at-bat and one pitch at a time,” he added. “We just kept scratch­ing and claw­ing.”

Mor­ris was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, while Frogge went 3-for4 with five RBIs. Gib­son went 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs and got the win in the cir­cle.

Up next for Her­itage is the first round of the state play­offs against Cedar­town, the No. 4 seed from Re­gion 5. The Gen­er­als will host the best-of-three se­ries, start­ing with a dou­ble­header on

Wed­nes­day, and they would also host the sec­ond-round se­ries, should they win.

But Moore said his team isn’t look­ing that far ahead.

“All we’re fo­cused on is round one,” he con­tin­ued. “Our motto is ‘on to the next one’ and that’s where our fo­cus is right now, but I can’t re­peat my­self enough. I’m just re­ally proud of them.”


Mor­ris’ hit her 10th homer of the sea­son dur­ing the tour­na­ment, break­ing the Her­itage record, once held by for­mer Chat­tanooga Moc Jess­lyn Stockard. Stockard belted nine homers in the 2011 sea­son for the Gen­er­als.

The Her­itage Gen­er­als scored 45 runs in four games to win the Re­gion 6-AAAA ti­tle, in­clud­ing 9-0 and 13-8 vic­to­ries over No. 1-ranked North­west Whit­field. (Photo by Danielle Pick­ett)

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