Darton lead-off hitter Sierra Newman lays down a bunt in Monday’s game against ABAC. Newman reached base six times in the doubleheader, which Darton swept to improve to 21-7. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Darton State softball player Jordan Allen and her teammates felt like they lost a little bit of confidence over the weekend in the Jimmie Stewart Tournament in Niceville, Fla.
Monday was all about getting it back.
Allen and the Lady Cavs bounced back from four losses over the weekend with a two-game sweep of rival ABAC. Darton (21-7) won the opener in five innings, 10-2, and then pounded out five hits and seven runs in the sixth inning of the second game to escape with an 11-4 victory.
“We talked about refocusing and playing for each other and not for ourselves to get back on track (after the weekend losses),” Allen said. “We were all kind of frustrated. This has been a long couple of weeks. We just kind of fell apart a little bit, but now we are good. I think our confidence is back up, so we should be good and back on our roll.”
Allen was a big part of Darton’s bounce-back sweep with a solo home run in the opener and a three-run double in the second game that keyed the Lady Cavs’ seven-run sixth inning.
It was the Lady Cavs’ 2-4 record in Niceville that motivated her.
“We don’t want to feel that again, so we have the mentality to whoop everybody else so we don’t feel that again,” Allen said. “Coach said to forget about the weekend we had, but to remember the feeling so that we go out with a better mentality.”
Darton, which is now 10-0 at home this season, came out on fire in the opener, scoring three in each of the first two innings and then adding four more runs in the third inning to put it away. Emily Church (2-for-3, 3 RBI, HR, 2 R), Bree Wells (1-for-2, 3 RBI, R) and Sierra Newman (1-for-1, RBI, 3 R) also had big games at the plate in the opener.
Sommar Wright threw all five innings for the Lady Cavs and allowed just five hits and one earned run. Wright, who added five strikeouts, is now 6-2 this season and has won her last four starts. She was one of the players who struggled over the weekend when she gave up 13 hits and eight runs in relief in a 13-1 loss to Louisiana State Eunice, but she got her swagger back Monday.
“That trip was a great bad trip. We needed that to get back on track and be focused,” Darton coach Eric Neel said. “We just can’t show up and win games. That’s not how we make a living. Our way of making a living is digging in and getting after it. That weekend humbled us a little bit.”
Darton and ABAC each scored four early runs in the second game before each starting pitcher settled in, but the Lady Cavs eventually broke ABAC starter Crystal Scanlon in the sixth inning with seven runs.
Allen’s three-run double to right-center was the highlight of the inning, but Wright and Newman also added to the lead with RBIs.
“We had got to six straight batters of swinging at (Scanlon’s) drop ball early, so we decided we would move up to the front of the box, get patient and make her get the ball up, which is the kind of hitting team we are,” Neel said.
Scanlon had allowed just three hits in the previous four innings.
“Darton is a good hitting team,” ABAC coach Donna Campbell said. “I told our girls that when Darton comes to our house in a couple of weeks we are going to have to bring our A game to beat them, which we are capable of doing. But you have to tip your hat (Monday) to a good-hitting ball club.”
Darton starter Tiffany Bishop gave up four runs and seven hits in the first three innings but then allowed just one hit in the final four innings, which included a sixth inning when she needed only three pitches to retire the side.
“It really wasn’t a lot of great stuff from (Bishop), but she found a way to get it done and hung in there,” Neel said. “Her last two outings have been that way. She is learning how to compete out there.”
Monday’s games were non-region contests between the Region XVII foes, but the Cavs return to region play today with a doubleheader against East Georgia College in Swainsboro.
“We need to win both against (East Georgia) just in case later on down the road we have a few hiccups,” Allen said. “These games are very important to win.”
ASU SOFTBALL SWEEPS BREWTON-PARKER: The Lady Rams improved to 6-10 overall with a non-conference sweep of host Brewton-Parker College on Monday.
Albany State won the opener, 7-0, behind a complete game from Alexa Lopez. Chelsea Hicks was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Chaconna Marks was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the first game.
In the second game, Ambrionna Atkism hit a grand slam in the first inning to key a five-run frame for the Lady Rams, who never trailed in the doubleheader. Hicks was the winning pitcher for ASU in Game 2.