RINGGOLD, Ga. — Except for completing or avoiding a regular-season sweep against one's top rival, there was little on the line when Ringgold hosted Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in a Region 5-AAA softball game Tuesday night.
Ringgold already had clinched one of the top two spots for next week's region tournament and the bye that goes with it, but Lady Tigers coach Rachel Hodge knows how important momentum is, so she was still finding things that needed attention after their rather workmanlike 7-2 win.
"They're still working really hard, and I really appreciate that," Hodge said. "We have a huge week coming up with senior night Thursday and our region tournament starting next Monday, so we have to stay focused and sharp. We're playing well, but we've still got a lot of maintenance-type things to clean up."
The top of the Ringgold lineup did most of the damage Tuesday, collecting nine of the team's 12 hits and scoring all seven runs. Doubles by Devon Brown and Chandler Turner keyed a three-run first inning for the Lady Tigers (20-5, 12-1).
Turner and Ericka Bynum had three hits and two runs scored each, while leadoff hitter Abby McKinney had two hits and scored twice. Brown, a former LFO star, was on base three times, including two walks.
"We're hitting the ball well, and this team has a lot of talent," senior Bynum gushed. "We lost a lot of talent from last year, but we gained it all back. We've got a lot of young girls who can play a lot of positions, and we feel comfortable wherever they play. I feel if we play like we can, we can definitely go all the way."
A Bynum double and Chandler's single to lead off the second led to two runs and a 5-0 lead. With Bynum on third, Chandler stole second, and when the throw from the LFO catcher went to second, Bynum took off from third and easily beat the return throw. Taylor Chadwick plated the other run with a one-out groundout.
For LFO (15-13, 7-6), the dangerous duo of Maryann Morgan and Courtney Crawford were kept relatively quiet, getting only two hits as Ringgold pitcher Brittany Portwood scattered seven hits to seven batters.
"Lakeview is a great team and they have a phenomenal top two hitters," Hodge said. "We did a good job of keeping them off base."
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 ...