Alcovy, Eastside win titles
Shakoor's homer lifts Lady Eagles past Heritage

COVINGTON - The Alcovy Lady Tigers and the Eastside Lady Eagles started their softball seasons by winning their divisions in tournaments over the weekend.

Eastside won the silver division in the South Gwinnett Diamond Classic, while Alcovy took the bronze division in the Griffin Diamond Classic.

"Overall, I was pleased with our performance. I felt the girls were over-anxious the first couple of games, but were able to settle down," Eastside coach Heather Wood said. "This tournament was a great way for us to see our areas of weakness before we start our region schedule Thursday against Elbert County.

"We struggled offensively in the beginning, but started putting the ball in play more and making things happen on Saturday. Amanda Henderson gave a great effort on the mound, throwing all five games for us."

On Saturday following pool play, the Lady Eagles had wins over Brookwood 7-3, Gilmer County 5-4 and Heritage 4-2.

In the championship game against Heritage, the game was tied 2-2 until the bottom of the ninth inning, and that's when Eastside's No. 9 batter, Kenya Shakoor, hit a two-run, walk-off homer to give Eastside the silver division championship.

"The Eastside game was a well-played ball game on both sides, ending with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth," Heritage coach Dickey Hightower said. "There was nothing cheap about it. It cleared the left-center field fence by a good 20 feet."

In the Griffin Tournament, Alcovy blanked Griffin 4-0 and Roswell Christian 12-0 before edging Salem 8-7.

In the game against Salem, the Lady Seminoles trailed 8-2 as they headed to the bottom of the final inning.

With the bases loaded, Salem's Tori Beauchamp delivered a single, allowing Samantha McCalvin to score leaving the bases loaded. After Kara Bassett scored on an error, Meghan Campbell hit a bases-clearing triple.

However, the Lady Seminoles were unable to get another clutch hit, leaving the tying run stranded on third base.

"I was very proud of the girls for not giving up and coming back in the bottom of the fourth inning," Salem coach Stephanie Bassett said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to overcome mistakes made earlier in the game."

Over the five-game tournament, Alcovy had three pitchers with one win each - Caitlin Williams, Dallas Hardin and Summer Kusch.

Heritage went 2-1 Saturday with wins over Brookwood 8-0 and Gilmer County 7-3.

The Lady Patriots played well offensively, ending the weekend with a team batting average of .306.

"Everyone who had an at bat in the tournament had at least one hit with Kat Baize, Whitney Phillips, Callie Alford and Katie Cuson getting six hits each," Hightower said. Phillips also shined on the base paths, going a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen bases.

Heritage pitchers Jamie Melson and Nikki Walden gave up three earned runs over 20 innings for a combined ERA of 1.05.

"We did commit eight errors in the tournament that led to four unearned runs," Hightower said. "We are going to work on that."

Salem, which finished in the bronze division Saturday going 1-2, had a 4-3 win over Fellowship Christian before being defeated by Lamar County 5-3.

In the Lay Seminoles' victory, Alyssa Essington got the win on the mound along with going 1-for-2 and and picking up the game-winning RBI.

"It was definitely a learning experience, and it was good for the girls to get more comfortable playing with each other. Hopefully, the younger girls got the preseason jitters out, so they'll be more calm and relaxed now," Bassett said. "I learned more about what my team is capable of doing, so now I know what to expect. For the duration of the season, I won't be happy with anything less than what I know they're capable of."

Newton, which played in the silver bracket of the Griffin tournament, went 2-1 on Saturday beating Spalding 2-1and Peach County 8-4 before losing 5-4 to Georgia Military in eight innings.