There were few frowning faces following Calhoun's 6-5 extra-inning high school softball win Thursday night at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, a rarity given the competitiveness of the two programs.
For the 12-2 winners, the game was affirmation that the 2011 season could indeed be a special one. For the 4-3 losers it was proof that, despite heavy graduation losses, the season will likely be more than just a rebuilding one.
Calhoun jumped out to a 4-0 lead, mainly thanks to Taylor Kelly's first-inning three-run homer to straight center field. But the gritty Lady Warriors tied the game with four runs of their own in the fifth but made a costly error leading to two runs in the eighth.
"It's a great win because it is rare that they lose here," Calhoun coach Diane Smith said of the Lady Warriors. "The girls jumped on them early and then kind of sat back. We had an opportunity in the fourth to maybe put them away, but we couldn't get it done. But that team fought back and they hit the ball really well. Both teams did a great job of competing."
The Lady Yellow Jackets rattled LFO freshman pitcher Cori Elswick with Taylor's long blast in the first, then added an unearned run in the second. Elswick, who is part of a staff trying to replace graduated all-star pitchers Monica Vickery and Maddie Bray, worked through a tight spot in the fourth as she held Calhoun scoreless over the next five innings.
"Cori could have gotten down after that first inning, but she settled down and pitched well enough to win," LFO coach Tony Ellis said. "She made a couple of bad pitches in key situations early, and we made some mistakes behind her. I don't like losing, but I think we took a step in the right direction today."
LFO was held to one hit through four innings by Calhoun pitcher Alyssa Shawgo, but five hits, including Courtney Crawford's two-run double and run-scoring hits from Savannah Franklin and Maryann Morgan, tied the game in the fifth and chased Shawgo from the circle.
The game remained tied until the eighth when, with two on and two out, an LFO infield error allowed both runners to score. The Lady Warriors got one run back in the eighth against Calhoun reliever Shyanne Dobson, but she stranded the potential tying run on second to earn the win.
"Dobson did an outstanding job," Smith said. "She shut them down until the last inning. In the past we've never had any luck against LFO. I think today will set the tone for the rest of the season."
LFO outhit Calhoun 9-to-5, with Maryann and Abby Morgan, Franklin and Beth Posey each getting two hits. Kelly had two for Calhoun.