Following a week of washouts, three local softball teams finally opened the 2017 season on Friday evening in the Trojan Leadoff Slam at the East Carrollton Softball Complex.
As the host of the two-day event, the Carrollton High School softball team captured a 6-0 victory over Heritage, Conyers in Friday night's late game and finished things off with a 9-1 win over Shaw on Saturday to mark a positive start on the campaign.
After having Monday's scrimmage rained out and the Region 7-AAAAA and season opener against Woodland, Cartersville suffer the same fate, Lady Trojan head coach Lisa Phillips was more than ready to see her team get out and compete against an opponent other than Mother Nature on Friday.
Needless to say, the results were well worth the wait.
"We're tired of practicing. It's good to get on the field and see them in a competitive situation. You can only simulate so much in practice," Phillips said. "We were a little slow to start, but we made some adjustments at the plate and put quite a few runs on the board."
Carrollton (2-0) busted the game open with a five-run third inning, highlighted by a three-run blast off the bat of sophomore shortstop Aslinn Spradlin.
The run support proved to be more than enough for sophomore hurler Olivia Fannin, who fired a six-inning shutout to earn win No. 1 on the season.
"She threw the ball well. I was impressed. I think she only gave up a couple of hits and had a walk there that she worked out of in the fourth. She showed a little grit right there, so I was proud to see her come back and get those outs," Phillips said.
The Lady Trojans picked up where they left off against Shaw on Saturday, where Spradlin took the circle and yielded just one hit with 10 strikeouts. The only run allowed was unearned.
Offensively, Montana Dallas went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Kate Albertus added a two-run base knock to lead the charge offensively.
Phillips said it was a productive weekend for her squad and she's looking to get into a rhythm of the season with a busy week on tap, including region contests at Woodland, Cartersville on Monday and Villa Rica on Tuesday before the home opener against Kell on Thursday.
"The things you want to see, I felt like we did," Phillips said. "You always want to improve as they go and it's a young group. So I think as we continue to grow together as a group, hopefully we can make some noise by the end of the year."
As the host of the season-opening event, Phillips said the working relationship with the Carrollton Parks and Recreation Department and the tremendous parental support help make it a worthwhile endeavor that teams want to take part in every year.
"The Carrollton rec works great with us being out here at this facility. I think we've got 12 or 13 teams this year, so this one's growing. Everybody wants to come because it's the leadoff tournament," Phillips said. "You can't do it without your parent volunteers and everybody that helps. I've got a great group of people who are willing to step up and help me out with this."
The season got off to a rather bumpy start for the Lady Eagles (1-1) in Friday's opener against Decatur — a 9-1 setback — but Jennifer Carter's squad resembled more of what she expected in the nightcap to rebound for a 6-4 victory against Class AAA power Pierce County.
"The first game, it seemed like we couldn't make a play on defense, no matter how hard we tried. But Anna Grace [Hennesy], our freshman on the mound, I thought pitched well both games. She pitched good enough to win both games, but we didn't make any plays behind her and we didn't put together too many hits in the first game. But in the second game, we turned everything around," Carter said.
Instead of defense being a deficiency, it turned into a strength in the nightcap, where a pair of key double plays kept MZ ahead to give Hennesy a well-deserved win after a tough-luck loss in the first and second varsity starts of her prep career.
Following a busy summer and some weather issues during the first few weeks of fall practice, Carter was excited to open the season, and she felt much better about the team putting the Game 1 performance behind it with a strong showing against Pierce.
"We came off a pretty good summer season. We won several games and things were looking well. I was taken by surprise by the way we started that first game there because we hadn't looked like that all summer," Carter said. "But we bounced back the second game and that's what I'm used to seeing."
Carter thought her freshman pitcher especially stood out Friday, along with a quality effort from sophomore Emily Phillips behind the plate and some clutch hitting from center fielder Kirsti Rogers.
MZ returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to Temple for a Carroll County showdown.
The Lady Blue Devils (1-1) also had a see-saw opening night of action Friday, suffering a 3-0 setback to Pierce County in the first game before dominating East Paulding in the nightcap for a 10-0 romp.
Bremen head coach Amy Pointer said her squad simply didn't hit in the first game, but the bats came alive against the Lady Raiders to boost the return of junior hurler Kristen Green, who delivered a dynamic performance in her long-awaited trip back in the circle.
After missing her entire sophomore year due to a shoulder injury, the Belmont University commit gave a commanding showing behind six innings of shutout ball with 11 strikeouts, much to the delight of Pointer.
"That's the first time she's pitched since the last game of her freshman year and this is the second game of her junior year," Pointer said. "I expect great things right there. She and Ashlinn [Garner] complement each other well on the mound. Ashlinn's got great composure. We've just got to hit behind our pitchers."
Pointer noted how Caitlin Smith, Ragan Folds, Haley Cook and Ali Eriquezzo hit the ball well Friday, while Ali Newland was solid behind the dish.
"They were very nervous I guess the first game. That's expected sometimes. But we just didn't hit," Pointer said. "I mean, you can't win if you don't hit. The second game was much better. If we are on and our bats are hot, it'll be hard to beat us."
In other prep softball action from the weekend:
Bowdon 1, Woodward Academy 0: The Red Devilettes (2-0) received a dominant display from senior ace Macy Bearden, who fired a complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits with 13 strikeouts on Friday night in LaGrange.
Reagan Thompson accounted for the lone run of the game, reaching on a bunt single in the top of the sixth, stealing second and third and scoring on a wild throw.
Bearden had two hits, while Maci Holloway and Libby Robinson had one hit each.
Temple softball: The Lady Tiger Invitational, originally scheduled for this past weekend, was rescheduled for Aug. 25-26.