The Region 7-AAA championship series didn’t go the way that the Lady Indians softball team had hoped when Lumpkin was swept by East Hall in the conference’s best-of-three championship series last week.
Despite the sweep, the Lady Indians did earn Region 7-AAA runner up honors and the opportunity to host the first round of the GHSA Class AAA State Playoffs.
Lumpkin went into the game after finishing the regular season with a 16-11 overall record and a 10-2 region record. The Lady Indians’ only two losses versus conference opponents during the 2019 season were against East Hall, so Lumpkin knew it would have to bring its “A” game when the two teams squared off for the region championship at East Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
In game one of the best-of-three series, the Lady Vikings got an early lead off LCHS starting pitcher Natalie Robinson when they scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 3-0 advantage.
After a quick out on a grounder to LCHS shortstop Evee Dornhecker, Robinson walked the second batter she faced in the game to give East Hall its first baserunner of the contest. A single to right field off the bat of Macy Banks gave the Lady Vikings runners on the corners. Banks quickly stole second to give East Hall two runners in scoring position during Abigail Brown’s at-bat. Brown then delivered a RBI groundout to third to put the Lady Vikings up 1-0. Callie Hardison followed with an infield single to short that Dornhecker couldn’t reel in. With runners at the corners for East Hall, Robinson threw a wild pitch that allowed another East Hall run. Four pitches later, Callie Dale walloped a RBI double to centerfield to put the Lady Vikings up 3-0. Robinson was able to get out of the inning without any further damage when she induced a groundout to third off the bat of Ansley Ivey to end the inning.
The score remained the same until the top of the fourth inning when Lady Indian Lauren English crushed a pitch from Banks over the wall in left field for a solo home run. English’s bomb cut the East Hall lead to 3-1.
However, the Lady Vikings’ lineup got to Robinson in the bottom half of the inning and Robinson gave up two more runs to extend the East Hall advantage to 5-1.
Robinson started the inning by hitting Ivey with a pitch. Gracie Smith followed with a single up the middle and Carley Cox legged out an infield single to load the bases for East Hall with no outs. Robinson then struck out Alexis Burce for the first out of the inning. However, Robinson’s control waned when Gracie Ausborn stepped into the batter’s box. Robinson walked Ausborn on five pitches with the bases loaded to allow another Lady Viking run to score. Banks followed with a RBI single to left field, extending the Lady Vikings’ lead to 5-1.
The Lady Indians were finally able to get out of the inning with a double play.
Robinson allowed one more run in the bottom of the sixth off a RBI bloop single by Ausborn. The run upped East Hall’s lead to 6-1.
The Lady Indians’ lineup struggled throughout the game to string together hits against Banks and in the end Lumpkin’s only offense would come from English’s fourth inning home run.
The Lady Indians lost game one by a final score of 6-1.
Robinson was saddled with the loss, as the senior pitcher allowed five runs off 11 hits in her seven innings of work.
The second game was all East Hall from the the start.
The Lady Vikings quickly took a 2-0 lead with a two-run single off the bat of Hardison against LCHS pitcher English in the top of the first.
East Hall added another two runs to the scoreboard in the top of the third when Brown belted a two-run bomb over the fence in right field, giving the Lady Vikings a 4-0 advantage.
Things completely fell apart for Lumpkin during the next at-bat for East Hall after Brown’s two-run shot.
After Hardison knocked a bloop single to shallow right field, it appeared that she made the turn around first and was tagged out by LCHS first baseman Robinson. The umpire signaled that Hardison was out, but after a fiery argument by both of East Hall’s coaches, the call was reversed and Hardison was deemed safe on the play.
The confusion behind the reversal caused the Lady Indians to lose their focus.
Another suspect call came later in the inning when it appeared that Robinson tagged out a runner headed to first base, but the runner was called safe by the umpire.
The entire situation turned the game into a nightmare for Lumpkin, who gave up eight runs in the inning to give East Hall a 10-0 advantage.
The Lady Vikings added six more runs to the scoreboard in the top of the fourth off LCHS reliever Emmie Graham to take a commanding 16-0 lead.
The Lady Indians were unable to plate a run in the bottom of the fourth which allowed East Hall to secure the 16-0 victory in a run-rule shortened game.
The Lumpkin loss also allowed the Lady Vikings to sweep the Lady Indians and earn the Region 7-AAA championship title.
LCHS head coach Joseph Jones, who felt confident that his team would put in a better performance coming into the series, was disappointed with his players’ focus versus East Hall in the championship series.
“I really felt like we had a good shot coming into today,” said Jones. “But, we let some things get us out of our game. I think it might be a mindset issue because we have the talent to beat this team. We just didn’t get it done.”
Despite being swept by East Hall in the championship series, the Lady Indians did secure themselves the opportunity to host the first round of the GHSA Class AAA Softball State Playoffs.
The Lady Indians will look to advance in the postseason when they host Westminster High School at the LCHS softball field for game one and two of the first round of the State Playoffs today, Oct. 9. Start time for game one is scheduled for 4 p.m. with game two following at 6 p.m.
In the event of a split, the “if necessary” game is set to take place at the LCHS softball field tomorrow, Oct. 10. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 5 p.m.