For a team with a history of annual success in softball, the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Lady Warriors had strangely been flying under the radar this season.
That all may be about to change.
The Lady Warriors clinched a top seed in the Region 7-AA tournament Thursday with a five-inning 10-2 win over upstart North Murray on senior night at LFO, but a sophomore did most of the damage. Third baseman Devan Brown hit a home run and a triple and drove in six runs to lead a suddenly potent LFO attack that has produced 10 or more runs 10 times this month.
"Right now we're just killing the ball and we're picking each other up," Brown said. "It's a huge win. It's senior night and I wanted to come out here and play for them. I couldn't let them end their last game here losing."
It won't be the seniors' final home game if the Lady Warriors (19-7, 6-1) can win one game at the 7-AA tournament, which starts Saturday in Adairsville. Clinching the B subregion's top seed means LFO won't play Saturday and needs just one win to clinch a semifinal -- and state playoff -- berth.
"If we win one we're in the next round, which is big, though we have to realize we have to keep up our level of play," said LFO coach Tony Ellis, who praised the third-year Lady Mountaineers (14-10, 5-2). "They've come a long way. I was concerned about them after they beat Calhoun 14-5. I was proud of the way the kids hit the ball. We've improved a lot."
While the LFO bats were smoking with 10 hits, junior pitcher Megan Smith was earning her 14th win. After LFO took a 3-0 lead in the second on RBI hits from seniors Ashley Armstrong and Kandi Gates, North Murray cut into the lead with solo homers from Amber Bandy in the third and Baylee Sutton in the fourth. Watson allowed only two other hits.
Brown made sure the lead stood up with a three-run homer to left-center in the fourth, then ended the game with her bases-clearing triple to right in the fifth.
"We just keep telling them to battle, battle, battle, and I feel they really did that tonight," Ellis said. "I feared that with this being senior night the distractions might get to them. And North Murray wasn't very good last year and I was afraid the girls might overlook them. Thankfully, they didn't."
Leadoff hitter Mary Anne Morgan was 3-for-4 with two runs while Gates had two hits.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...