While Etowah (15-5-2, 4-0) excelled in all aspects of the game, Lassiter
(16-2-1, 3-2) could never find a rhythm at the plate or in the field.
Lassiter’s offense was stifled by Etowah’s Bridgette Flaherty, who gave up only two hits in a complete game.
“The girls played well all-around,” Etowah coach Victoria Brown said. “We hit well and made the plays that we needed to make to win. Bridgette pitched very well and we had a good outing from everyone, which is what we needed to beat the second-ranked team in the state.”
Lassiter’s Mackenzie Kayler didn’t fare as well as Flaherty, giving up 14 hits and seven earned runs in seven innings.
For the Lady Trojans, who began the season with a 16-game unbeaten streak, the loss was the second — both against Cherokee County teams — in three games. They lost an eight-inning game to Cherokee last Thursday, and now fall into the middle of the pack in the region race.
“We got beat by a better team — bottom line,” Lassiter coach Jason Campbell said. “There’s not much else to say than that.”
When asked what he felt the Lady Trojans needed to work on the most after the loss, Campbell’s answer was simple.
“Everything,” he said.
Though both teams managed to get on base in the first and second innings, neither was able to come around to score, and the game remained scoreless as it entered the third.
In the top half of the third, Etowah’s offense came alive, as Jenna Ertel and Kaitlyn Hughes led off the with a pair of singles.
After Allie Brown advanced the runners on a groundout, Courtney Atkinson, put the Lady Eagles on the board with a single to center field that scored both Ertel and Hughes.
Atkinson finished the night 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Etowah added to its lead in the fifth with a series of at-bats that looked almost identical to the third inning.
After Grayson Lutz got on base with a single, and Ertel reached due to a fielding error, Hughes advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.
Just like Atkinson did in the third, Brown hit a single to center field that would drive in both Hughes and Ertel.
Brown went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and scored a run
A double by Torrie Garner then drove in Atkinson, who had reached on a single, to give the Lady Eagles a 5-0 lead.
Lassiter couldn’t make any offensive progress against Flaherty, and was retired in order in the third, fourth, and fifth innings thanks to Etowah’s efficient infield.
It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Lady Trojans came closest to scoring than they had all night, only to be thwarted by the Etowah’s defense once again.
With Carli Kayler on first, Elise Sandberg singled into left field, prompting Kayler to round second and try for third.
Though Etowah’s Sharlene Strother was unable to catch the ball in the air, she managed to knock it out of the air with a dive and immediately relayed it to third baseman Maddie Jenkins, who then tagged Kayler as she attempted to scramble back to second.
Etowah further padded its lead in the seventh when a double by Jenkins, who drove in Brown and Atkinson with the final two runs of the game.
Flaherty then retired the side in the seventh to give Etowah the win.
Victoria Brown praised the Lady Eagles’ defense for their ability to execute throughout the game.
“We preach and practice that, if you make all the routine plays, you’re golden,” she said. “If you make some spectacular plays like we did (Tuesday), then it’s a bonus.”
Despite the fact that the Lady Eagles now sit alone atop the region, Brown was quick to downplay their standing.
“It’s nice to be on top, but region play isn’t over,” Brown said. “We still have some games left.”