Their is an old saying that says “all good things must come to an end,” and for the players and coaches of the West Hall Lady Spartans that is exactly what has happened.
The Lady Spartans (22-13) will not be making the trip down Interstate-85 to Columbus for the first time since 2002 after losses to Oconee County and Ringgold in the north state sectional qualifier.
After a loss Friday night to Oconee County (29-4-2), the Lady Spartans knew they had to come out big on Saturday morning to have a shot at redemption. Their first draw was North Atlanta.
The Lady Spartans defeated North Atlanta by the score of 14-3 in five innings. Behind a strong pitching performance from Morgan Strickland, West Hall’s offense was then able to just go out and get runs at will.
In the top half of the first inning the Lady Spartans put nine quick runs on the board to take a 9-0 lead.
The big hit came when Emily Hammond hit a single that drove in three runs. Morgan Strickland, Madison Strickland, Kiley Kirkland, and Alex Wright all contributed hits and RBIs in the inning.
Then in the top of the third inning, West Hall was able to add five more runs, making it a 14-3 ballgame. Kirkland hit a double that brought three runs home and sparked the inning. The other two runs came off of a Morgan Strickland single and a Hammond groundout.
Morgan Strickland gave up three runs in the bottom of the first inning, but straightened everything out, not giving up any runs over the last four innings, and she collected eight strikeouts along the way. As a team the Lady Spartans had 13 hits.
In the second game however, the Lady Spartans were not as fortunate, and would not get near the runs, in fact they got zero. The Ringgold Lady Tigers defeated the Lady Spartans by a score of 3-0.
“Ringgold is a good team,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “They earned the runs that they got today.”
Earning they did, because in game two for West Hall, Hammond was on the mound.
Hammond kept the game scoreless through the first three innings of the game, picking up a strikeout and having a great defense behind her didn’t hurt either.
“Emily pitched great today,” Sellers said.
But in the bottom half of the fourth inning the Lady Tigers were able to get three get hits off her. The hits were delivered Caty Sparks, Haley Gibson, and Megan Crawford. Along with the hits came two runs that made the score 2-0 after four innings.
The only glimmer of hope for the Lady Spartans came in the top half of the sixth inning when Alex Wright hit a single. The reason this was significant was because this was the only hit West Hall had all game against Ringgold pitcher Caty Sparks.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning Ringgold would add another run to make the score 3-0. That was just to much to overcome for the Lady Spartans, as Caty Sparks and the Lady Tigers of Ringgold would pick up the victory.
“I’m proud of the girls. The girls played well this year,” Sellers said. “We went down to the wire with Oconee on Friday and just barely lost. We’re happy though.
“Hopefully, if we are fortunate to get back to this position next year, then they will take away the fact that they were not intimidated by these great teams. I had a good senior bunch who was used to Columbus, but it’s OK because I’m proud of them.”
Also falling short from Region 7-AAA was the White County Lady Warriors (26-9) who lost to Stephens County on Friday night 1-0 and Cedartown on Saturday morning 10-1.
The Lumpkin County Lady Indians also made the Region 7-AAA tournament, but were bounced as well. Their losses came at the hands of Eastside on Friday night, and Oconee County on Saturday afternoon.