RINGGOLD, Ga. - One game hardly defines a season, but for a Heritage High School softball team with mega expectations, Monday night's opening-game 4-1 win over Catoosa County rival Ringgold was - the Generals hope - a glimpse of things to come.
Heritage rallied from a 1-0 deficit with three runs in the fifth inning and rode the dominant pitching and hitting of senior Lauren Lawson to avenge a loss to the Lady Tigers last year. Lawson battled early control problems but allowed only five hits and struck out five in winning her duel with Ringgold ace Abby McKinney.
"We lost to them last year, so I really wanted to beat them this year," said Lawson, who was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. "I wasn't going to let anything get in my way, so I kept the team up in the dugout and I was able to get a big hit and gave all my effort pitching. It feels really good to beat them knowing it was such a tough loss last year."
McKinney battled her own control issues early but managed to strand six Heritage runners in the first three innings. The game was halted for 30 minutes due to lightning in the area just as the Generals had runners at third and second with one out. When the game continued, McKinney struck out two batters to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead earned on her own RBI single in the first inning.
"We've got a veteran ballclub and we didn't get our bunts down and we left too many runners in scoring position early, so it was a bit frustrating," Heritage coach Steve Chattin said. "Of course, let's give McKinney some credit. We've put together a pretty talented schedule as far as facing good pitchers is concerned, and we feel McKinney is as good as anybody.
"I really thought we had them on the ropes right at the lightning delay, but she got out of that. Then we finally got the big hit, and once we got ahead we've got our own stud in Lawson, who threw the ball very well."
Leadoff hitter Olivia Tamewitz began the fifth-inning rally with a single and quickly stole second. Sydney Smith walked and Lawson doubled to tie the game. Smith then scored on a wild pitch and Lawson scored on Brooklynn Frazier's single. Lawson was at it again in the sixth when her two-out single scored Shea Headrick to make it 4-1.
Lawson, who had to work around a pair of hits in the fifth, allowed only one baserunner in the final two innings to wrap up the impressive win and spoil the debut of Ringgold coach Shane Pendley.
"They're a good team, but we made enough mistakes tonight that we could have won," Pendley said. "We got good pitching, but we couldn't get the timely hit and we made some defensive mistakes. Hopefully we can correct those mistakes and get after it in the next one."
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.