MARIETTA – Pope earned a return trip to the Class AAAAAA state softball tournament and earned coach Chris Turco his 300th career victory with a two-game sweep of Houston County on Wednesday.
After winning the first game 8-0 in five innings, the Lady Greyhounds claimed the nightcap 7-1 to earn the sweep and give Turco his milestone 300th win.
“Three hundred wins can’t happen without a great booster club, an amazing administration and awesome assistant coaches,” Turco said. “The girls really believed in us and bought in.”
Pope (26-4) now advances to the state tournament in Columbus Oct. 24-26. It will be the fourth consecutive year and seventh time in eight seasons that the Lady Greyhounds have made it to tournament.
“This senior class made it a goal in their freshman year to (make it to the state tournament every year),” said Turco, who took the reins in 2006. “They were able to do, so I’m proud of them. The girls expect to make it to Columbus every year and they continue to do it.”
Hallie Adams went the distance in the circle in both games, throwing a one-hit shutout in Game 1.
Pope scored three runs in the first inning, then added a run in the third before posting five runs in the last two innings to clinch the win in the opening contest.
Carolyn Deady drove in all of Pope’s runs in the bottom of the first inning with a three-run home run that also brought home Jadyn Laneaux and Zoe Laneaux.
The Lady Greyhounds got their lone run in the bottom of the third when Zoe Laneaux’s sacrifice fly drove in Jadyn Laneaux.
In the bottom of the fifth, Pope added to its lead when Jadyn Laneaux singled to score Emily Ricci, and Zoe Laneaux brought in Jadyn Laneaux on another sac fly to make it 6-0.
The Lady Greyhounds wrapped up their opening game win when Natalie Klingler doubled to score Bailey Chapin and Adams singled to bring in Ricci.
Pope came out swinging in Game 2 with three runs in the top of the first inning. Adams doubled to score Jadyn Laneaux and later scored on a wild pitch, while Chapin’s single brought in Zoe Laneaux.
The Lady Greyhounds added a run in the top of the second when Abby Rocco scored on wild pitch and came up big with three more runs in the top of the seventh on Zoe Laneaux’s three-run home run.
“All week, we’ve been stressing that we had to play defense and Hallie knew she had to pound the zone and throw strikes,” Turco said. “She was great and gave us a great chance. We strung some hits together and got some big hits there.”