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SGA’s dream season ends in state semifinal

Southwest Georgia Academy pitcher Madison Ragan was stung with two tough losses Saturday in the GISA Class AAA state semifinals at Southern Pines Park. (Staff photo: Tim Morse)

Southwest Georgia Academy pitcher Madison Ragan was stung with two tough losses Saturday in the GISA Class AAA state semifinals at Southern Pines Park. (Staff photo: Tim Morse)

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Southwest Georgia shortstop Baylee Everson, left, catches the throw and tries to tag Westfield’s Chelsea Whaley Saturday in the GISA Class AAA state semifinals at Southern Pines Park. (Staff photo: Tim Morse)

DUBLIN — Madison Ragan trotted off the field, a small tear streaming down her cheek.

Two more seniors hugged in the left field grass.

A season filled with so many broken records, so many unforgettable games and so many great plays ended in heartbreak Saturday for the Southwest Georgia Lady Warrior softball team in the GISA Class AAA state semifinals at Southern Pines Park.

SGA lost its first game 5-0 to defending state runner-up Westfield. Then with the team needing to win two straight games to fight their way out of the loser’s bracket and into next week’s best-of-three finals round, they couldn’t manage to win one.

Tattnall Square ended SGA’s season with a 6-2 victory.

The Lady Warriors were 20-0 heading into the semifinals for the first time in school history. SGA coach Tommy Manry wished it could have lasted a little longer.

“We broke a lot of school records this year and made the final four for the first time,” said Manry, who told the team he was retiring after the game.

“We were the smallest Class AAA school here. I’m not making excuses about being the smallest school here. We just couldn’t hit (Saturday). Everything we hit that was hard, it was right at somebody.”

The Lady Warriors managed just three hits in the first game. Manry believes his team set the tone for the day when Baylee Everson walked and Braylie Blanton singled to put runners at first and second-base in the first game.

However, Westfield pitcher Sydney Barker got two pop flies and a strikeout to leave both runners stranded.

SGA’s best chance to score came in the fourth with one out. Kendyl Carver singled, then moved to third on Allison Warren’s drive to left field that was misplayed, putting runners on second and third. But Barker again got a pair of pop flies to preserve the shutout.

Everson had the team’s other hit.

“We had runners in scoring position a couple of times and when we needed to get the big hit, we couldn’t get it,” Manry said.

Against Tattnall Square, SGA fell behind 4-0 but cut the deficit in half in the fourth inning on RBI singles from Carver and Bella Cushing.

However, Tattnall cut down SGA’s momentum with a two-run homer in the fifth.

The loss spoiled catcher Brooke Hornsby’s performance, who led SGA with a double and a single.

Manry knew this year was going to be his last. The longtime coach will be 66 next March and has been coaching softball for 29 seasons.

“I didn’t want to tell the girls that and put all kinds of pressure on them,” he said. “I can still throw 500 pitches a day and carry on practices like I did when I was 25. I want to go out while I still feel like that.”