By Brian Paglia
Nothing came as easy for Allie Raines and the second-seeded Ola Lady Mustangs as the final three outs of Ola's 4-1 victory over Stockbridge in the second round of the Region 4-AAAA Tournament at the Gerald Matthews Sports Complex on Tuesday.
When Raines faced the Lady Tigers a week ago to the day, her command was precise and her focus unwaverable as she threw five innings of perfect softball, allowing no runs, no hits, no walks.
This time Raines battled through bouts of inconsistency.
Like the leadoff walk to Shanice Jones in the top of the fifth inning, one that hurt when Jones later scored on a single by Feylinne McKeiver. Or the back-to-back two-out hits she allowed in the sixth that ignited the Stockbridge bench with hope.
But then came that seventh inning when Raines refocused and fired 14 pitches. That's all she needed to get three straight strikeouts and advance the Lady Mustangs (16-12-1) to the second round to face No. 4-seed Griffin at 6:30 p.m.
"She pitched OK," Maddox said. "She was not on top of her game, but she did pitch a good game.
She was effective enough."
Raines worked through her seven-inning performance, allowing one earned run on seven hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. Ola's lineup seemed flat to coach Marty Maddox, though it got nine hits including two from Sam Maycock and Felicia Shelton.
"Our bats were just a little too flat," Maddox said. "Hopefully today we can come back and light it up like we need to."
Stockbridge pitcher Tiffany Cain endured her own valiant battle, completing her six requisite innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts.
But the Lady Tigers stranded eight runners on base, squandered a ripe opportunity with the bases loaded in the fifth and could only produce one run on McKeiver's single.
Dutchtown 15, Mt. Zion 0 (3 innings):
The Lady Bulldogs ended Mt. Zion's season with a dominate performance in their second round game, the first in the tournament loser's bracket.
Dutchtown plays Stockbridge at 4:30 p.m. in the third round for the chance to play No. 1-seeded Alcovy, who lost to Griffin 10-1, at 6:30 p.m.
Just one week ago, Morrow was celebrating one final regular season victory, bouyed by its title as the best softball team in Clayton County. It seemed then like something miraculous was possible in the Region 4-AAAAA Tournament.
A week later, the Lady Mustangs were without one-third of its starting lineup, counting the casualties of two players that transferred and one that went on vacation.
An unrecognizable Morrow team suddenly full of inexperienced players couldn't overcome a litany of errors in a 13-5 loss to Mundy's Mill at the Gerald Matthews Sports Complex in the first round of the Region 4-AAAAA Tournament.
Mundy's Mill faces No.1-seeded and state-ranked Chapel Hill at 6 p.m. in the second round, while Morrow faces Westlake at 4 p.m. in the first round of the loser's bracket.