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GISA STATE SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: No. 1 seed SGA girls stunned in 1st round; Sherwood, Southland, Terrell all fall, too

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

DAMASCUS -- It sounded like coachspeak when SGA softball coach Tommy Manry tried to find the words to describe Saturday's shocking first-round home loss in the GISA Class AA State Tournament to Gatewood in three games.

But every single syllable he uttered through a series of sighs was the truth.

"Nothing went our way," he said.

"Everyone's really, really disappointed.

"We feel just awful.

"I wish I could explain it."

But he couldn't. It was hard to explain how his SGA team, which had had one loss all season and came in at 16-1 and as the No. 1 seed, could suddenly fall so short in a season everyone in Damascus -- and around the state -- knew had so much promise.

But there it was. The final scorea told it all.

Game 1: Gatewood 5, SGA 3.

Game 2: SGA 3, Gatewood 2.

Game 3: Gatewood 1, SGA 0.

Even more tough to swallow was the fact that SGA ace Bailey Ponder only gave up two total earned runs -- after pitching 19 1/3 innings -- and the Lady Warriors stranded a total of 30 runners in scoring position.

That's right, 30. And that's from one of the hottest hitting squads in Georgia that came in with a .347 team batting average.

"It's a shame we didn't win the way Bailey pitched. We had the bases loaded several times -- some times with one out -- and we just couldn't get the hits," Manry said. "I credit Gatewood for coming in and beating us. And we had a big home crowd cheering us on."

Manry then paused before adding, "But we should've beat that team."

In Game 1, Jenna Kitchings, a freshman, led with a triple and a single, while Hayley Chappell had two singles and an RBI. But walks and errors cost SGA.

In Game 2, Bethany Bodrey -- one of the team's three seniors, along with Morgan Hilton and Heather Grebel -- led the way, going 4-for-4 and Kitchings again had two hits (a single and a double). But it was Chappell who hit a two-out double to drive in the winning run to force

Game 3 -- marking one of the few bright spots in SGA's day.

"We felt we were gonna win it after that," Manry said. "Even after we'd struggled all day."

But even Kitchings' steady bat in Game 3 -- she again hit a single and a double -- and a triple by Hilton, wasn't enough as the Lady Warriors made eight errors on the day.

"That's too many," Manry said.

And so SGA's amazing season comes to an end at 17-3 overall after a perfect region record of 6-0.

Manry said he and his girls shared in their sorrow after the game, but he left everyone with a thought he hoped would help soothe the pain.

"I just told the girls, 'Sometimes life throws you a curve ball -- and this is one of those times," he said. "And it won't be last one. But regardless of how bad a day you've had, if you can go home and look in the mirror and know you gave it your all, you're still a winner.

"No matter what the scoreboard says.'"

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SHERWOOD, TERRELL ACADEMY, SOUTHLAND ALL SWEPT IN FIRST ROUND:

In the GISA Class AAA openers for Southland and Sherwood's softball teams Saturday, both were eliminated in two games, while the same was true for Terrell Academy in Class AA as all three area programs' season came to an end early.

Sherwood lost to Bulloch Academy, 3-0, in Game 1, and then 4-1 in Game 2.

The Eagles will host Bulloch on Friday in football, and SCA coach Greg Richter hopes the school will get a chance for payback.

"Let's hope," he said.

Sherwood ace Anna Laine Brock, who has thrown two no-hitters in just her freshman season, got injured early in Game 1 and -- because the Lady Eagles only have 10 players -- was moved from the mound to first base.

"She pulled her quad and she couldn't push off, and when you lose your dominant pitcher, it makes it very difficult to win," Richter said. "And we don't want to take a chance for her to risk further injury, so we brought in Jordan Cox and she really did a good job."

But it wasn't enough as SCA's season ended at 15-7 overall.

Brock had four hits in the game even though she was hurt, and Payton Couch tallied a double and two singles.

Terrell's quest for a second straight state title -- this one in AA after the Lady Eagles moved up from Class A last season -- ended in 10-2 and 9-0 losses, respectively, to LaGrange Academy. LaGrange's Molly Child is to blame for causing the Lady Eagles fits all day after she held TAE to four hits in Game 1 -- then allowed no hits in Game 2.

Terrell's season ends at 10-9 overall and it will lose three seniors -- Carley Law, Millie Foster and Taylor Gilliam -- on a very young team that has no juniors and the rest sophomores and freshman.

Brittany Spilman had a double and drove in a run and Law hit a triple and had an RBI.

No. 2 seed Southland, meanwhile, lost both of its games to Pinewood Christian, 5-3, and 9-3, although no further information was available.