Heritage wins gold at Morgan County
Lady Tigers take silver, Lady Bulldogs earn bronze at two-day softball tournament

COVINGTON - Heritage, Alcovy and Rockdale dominated the Morgan County softball tournament winning the gold, silver and bronze division in the two-day tournament which started Friday.

The Lady Patriots went 5-0 to win the gold, which included a win over Region 8-AAAA and No. 9-ranked Madison County.

"The whole tournament was a team effort with all 16 players getting some playing time and at bats," Heritage coach Dickey Hightower said.

Heritage started their way to the top Friday with a 2-1 win over the host team before run-ruling Baldwin County 11-0.

The Lady Patriots began the second day of the tournament against a tough Madison County team.

Both teams fought hard but ended up going scoreless through regulation forcing the game to be decided by international tie breaker rules.

The Lady Red Raiders took advantage of the runner on second to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning.

With Chandler Shepherd starting on second base, Madison County walked two batters to load the bases with one out.

Whitney Phillips crushed the ball into center field to plate Shepherd and Jaclyn Queen and give the Lady Patriots the win.

"Nikki (Walden) pitched a great game - the kind we need to get from her the rest of the year and the next two years," Hightower said. "She is very capable of doing it and this tournament showed what she can do."

Besides getting the win with four hits and a walk against Madison County, Walden also got the win over Baldwin where she allowed two hits and a walk while fanning six batters.

Heritage's winning streak looked like it was going to end against Gilmer County as they trailed 3-2 after five innings.

But their determination showed as they tied the game in the top of the sixth inning before scoring three more in the seventh for the 6-3 win and a chance to play for the tournament championship.

Heritage pitcher Jamie Melson got the win, striking out 10 batters while giving up five hits and no walks.

Melson also had the win on a three-hitter in their first game against Morgan County.

In the championship game against Franklin County, Walden pitched the first few innings of the contest and held the Lady Lions to one run. Unfortunately, the Lady Patriots could not put any more runs on the board as they played to a 1-1 tie through five innings.

That was when Heritage's bats came alive scoring four runs for a two-out rally.

Phillips paced Heritage offensively with seven hits for the tournament followed by Amanda Voyles who had six while Melson and Katie Cuson both had five.

The Alcovy Lady Tigers started the tournament with an 8-0 win over Prince Avenue Christian before losing to Gilmer 4-3 in nine innings.

After losing the first game on Saturday 9-4 to Monroe Area, the Lady Tigers stayed focused to get a 1-0 win over Morgan County.

The game came down to a squeeze play by Johnna Bagley and Dallas Hardin.

The Lady Tigers won the silver division with a 5-2 win over Newton.

"We played good defense overall, pitched good overall and hit good at times over the tourney," Alcovy coach Casey Bates said. "I am proud of the way we went out there and played this weekend getting us ready for the region tourney coming up in three weeks."

Hardin went 3-1 from the circle where she pitched two shutouts including a no-hitter.

The Rockdale Lady Bulldogs started poorly with two losses on Friday before turning it around by winning all three games Saturday.

In the first game against Monroe Area, Rockdale stayed within striking distance until the final two innings where the Lady Hurricanes scored five runs to take a 6-0 win.

In the second Friday game, the Lady Bulldogs played to a 6-6 tie through seven innings.

However, they were unable to keep pace with Franklin County, losing 8-6.

Rockdale came out Saturday and took a one-run win (3-2) over Prince Avenue Christian.

The next two games were won by bigger margins as they beat Washington-Wilkes 4-1 before beating Baldwin 6-1 to win the bronze bracket.

"The girls knew that they had to make the best of the situation and win all three games. They played hard and won all three," Rockdale coach Holly Hamilton said. "This was not our best ball on Friday or Saturday but I think that we were able to see some teams that weren't in our region and were able to gain some experience from that."

Newton split their games on Friday, losing 5-0 to Madison County before beating Washington-Wilkes 8-7.

Before losing to Alcovy, the Lady Rams lost to Morgan County 7-1 but had a 7-2 win over Monroe Area.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.