ALBANY — First Darton was shocked to see its school-record 30-game winning streak come to an end.
Then the Lady Cavs were shocked about what happened after it did.
After handing Darton just its second loss of the season in the opener of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the East Georgia softball team stormed the field with a celebration befitting a championship.
“We have beaten some Division I schools and never stormed the field like that,” Darton coach David Dews said. “It was kind of shocking that they would storm the field after winning one game.”
That’s just how rare a Darton loss has been this season.
After losing the opener, 5-4, in extra innings, the Lady Cavs came back and run-ruled East Georgia in Game No. 2, 12-4.
The Lady Cavs, who dropped one spot to No. 13 in the NJCAA national rankings, are now 37-2 this season and 9-1 in Region XVII play.
Wednesday’s loss was reminiscent of the team’s only other setback this season — a 3-2 loss on Feb. 11 to Enterprise that was also in extra innings.
Dews said his players were disappointed after the loss — but not devastated.
“I told them that these things happen,” he said. “What we have to do is respond. Because more so than the streak, we need to think about the conference race. We need to come back and regain some of that momentum.”
Katy Jordan pitched all nine innings of the opener and racked up eight strikeouts, but the Lady Cavs’ ace fell to 19-2 this season.
At the plate for Darton, Erica Vasquez was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Kelsea Ogletree was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
East Georgia led 3-0 before the Lady Cavs scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings. Each team scored once in the eighth inning. Vasquez nearly scored the winning run but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Freshman Jenny Willis got the win in the nightcap, while Jessica Vason and Holly Smith were each 2-for-4 for three RBI.
The Lady Cavs play again in a doubleheader Friday at home against Waycross, which is in second place in the region and two games behind Darton.
CAVS SPLIT WITH THOMAS: It was a rough Wednesday for the Darton baseball program.
The Cavs dropped eight spots to No. 20 in the NJCAA poll and then split a non-conference double header with Thomas to fall to 33-10 overall.
Darton had won 11 of its last 12 games coming into the doubleheader, so the drop in the rankings was a bit puzzling — especially since Region XVII foe Middle Georgia, which recently lost two games to East Georgia and was swept by Darton, moved to No. 13 in the poll.
Regardless of why the NJCAA decided to drop the Cavs, Hemmings said he is remaining focused on winning a conference title.
“I’m proud we’re still in the top 20,” Hemmings said. “It speaks volumes about the direction we’re headed. The overall goal is to win the conference championship, and we’re up by three games.”
A.J. Sunstrom, who improved to 6-0 on the mound. led the Cavs to a 11-1 win in the opener. He allowed just one hit in five innings and struck out seven.
Evan Carr and Tripp Calhoun were both 2-for-2 with two RBI, and Parker Nix was 2-for-2 with three runs and an RBI.
Darton freshman Shawn Thomas got the loss in the second game. Thomas allowed four runs and five hits in four innings, but he got little help from his offense, which got just three base hits all game.
Nix was 1-for-3 and got Darton’s only RBI in the nightcap.
The Cavs return to region play Tuesday with a single game at home against Gordon.
ASU RUNS AWAY WITH AWARDS: Five Albany State track & field athletes — Brittany Carter, Jasmine Grovenor, Chelsea Johnson, CreeAnn Perkins and Garrett Reynolds — were honored Wednesday as conference players of the week.
Carter, who has now won four athlete of the week awards this season, is the current conference leader in both the 800-meter and 1,500 runs.
Grovenor’s second player of the week honor came after she did well in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay in the Jacksonville State University “Gem of the Hills” Invitational.
Johnson took flight in the triple jump to join a field of NCAA Division II provisional qualifiers. She ranks 21st in the nation and 4th in the conference in the event.
Perkins made the athlete of the week list for the second time after securing the conference lead in the shot put to go along with her conference-high mark in discus.
Reynolds claimed a provisional qualification in the 100 and rounds out the top 15 in the nation and top three in the conference.