By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Coosa Christian softball coach Amy Shaw went with her gut feeling on Monday at the Gadsden Sports Complex.
Fortunately for the Lady Conquerors (3-5), Shaw’s hunch ultimately led to a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Gaston.
With her team trailing 7-2 in the bottom of the second inning, Shaw sent No. 1 pitcher Niki Moore to the mound in an attempt to cool off the Lady Bulldog offense.
Shaw had hoped to rest Moore for several upcoming area games, but decided that her squad deserved an opportunity defeat their Etowah County rivals.
Moore justified her coach’s faith in her, as she surrendered just one run and one hit after inheriting a bases-loaded, one-out situation. Over the next six innings, she limited the Gaston lineup to two hits and five baserunners, only one of whom advanced past second.
Moore’s effectiveness cleared the way for a late-inning rally that saw Coosa score five runs in the bottom of the seventh to emerge with the victory.
“I told the girls to show some pride and remember the hard work they’d put in so they’d be prepared for this kind of situation,” said Shaw. “We really focused at the plate and did what we needed to do.”
Trailing 8-4 and facing their final three outs, the Lady Conquerors quickly got runners into scoring position when Morgan Lutrell led off with a single and Moore reached base on a fielding error.
That brought up Makayla McGlaughan, who blasted a two-run double to narrow Coosa’s gap to two runs.
The above hit capped a big day at the plate for McGlaughan, who went 3-for-4 with five RBI and a run scored.
“That was a huge hit by Makayla,” said Shaw. “She’s really been struggling at the plate, and I felt that she got out of her slump today and hit the ball in a clutch situation.”
Morgan Murphree singled in a run in the next at-bat, cutting the Bulldog advantage to one run.
After another fielding error put Emily Ellis on the basepaths, Gaston notched the first out of the inning on a forceout at home plate.
Following Mary Beth Williamson’s single, Hannah Menafee hit an infield fly between first and second base.
It appeared as if the Gaston fielder made a diving catch, but the officials ruled a dropped ball, which plated Ellis and Williamson with the tying and winning run, respectively.
Moore’s pitching line included nine strikeouts and no walks.
“This was a big rival game but it wasn’t an area game, so I wanted to save Niki,” said Shaw. “But she did an excellent job of coming in and righting the ship for us, especially after she had given up a few runs. She kept her composure and was able to keep them off-balance and keep them guessing. She wasn’t throwing anything that [Gaston] could sit back and drive. Niki has really stepped us as a leader of this team and really has produced for us on the mound this year.”
Also for Coosa, Lutrell went 2-for-4 with three runs scored, while Moore, Murphree and Noell Lipscomb each went 2-for-4.
Coosa took an early 2-0 lead on Moore’s RBI groundout and McGlaughan’s RBI single in the bottom of the first inning.
The above advantage didn’t last long.
In the top of the second, Madison Reaves got on base and scored via an error. Following by respective singles from Heather Short and Taylor Bush, Destiny Allen ripped a double to make it 3-2 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs.
Gaston wasn’t finished, as three fielding errors combined with RBI singles from Abby Elrod and Allyson Britton provided Gaston with an 8-2 lead.
Moore eventually came on in relief, however. Starting with the final out of the inning, she retired the next eight Gaston batters and struck out the side in the third.
Meanwhile, Coosa drew within striking distance with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth when Lutrell scored on an error and McGlaughan’s base hit plated Madison Tate.
Moore retired the side in order in the sixth and third baseman Noell Lipscomb made a nice unassisted double play in the seventh to help set up the Lady Conquerors’ five-run seventh.
Madison Reaves went the distance for Gaston, striking out five while allowing four earned runs and one walk.
At the plate for the Lady Bulldogs, Britton, Short and Bush each went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Allen went 1-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored, while Darby Samples had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.