By Zack Huffman
The softball coach for Osbourne High School paced frantically in the dug out. In the mere span of seconds, what had been an occasional, light drop of rain was quickly becoming a torrential downpour.
It was the bottom of the fourth inning, and the Cardinals were leading the Lovejoy Wildcats 10-5. If they could just hold their lead for three more outs, the game would have lasted long enough to count despite ending early for weather.
It was the perfect time for Lovejoy to start a rally.
Osbourne's lead cut to three runs before Lovejoy gave up the first out.
The rain continued to fall as Lovejoy put two more runners on base, while giving up a second out.
Before the Lady Wildcats could sent anybody else home, the third and final out took place, giving Osbourne the 10-7 win, immediately followed by a mass scurry off the field as players, officials and fans alike sought the cover of their respective vehicles.
That was how the first day of the Clayton County Clash of Champions concluded Thursday night at the Lovejoy Softball Complex.
The day began with Mundy's Mill facing Osbourne and Morrow facing Mt. Zion on adjacent fields.
Mundy's Mill quickly jumped on Osbourne, creating and maintaining a lead that was just shy of the ten-run mercy rule that would have ended the game early.
After six innings, the Lady Tigers came away with the win, having exceeded the pre-agreed two-hour time limit, 17-9.
Just fifty feet away, Morrow made short work of the Mt. Zion Lady Bulldogs, 19-9 in just four inning.
Mt. Zion made a strong opening statement scoring four runs on their first at bat, but the Lady Mustangs answered with seven of their own runs to complete the first inning. Morrow held the lead from there, driving in eight runs in the fourth inning, to cement their win.
"I think it was an excellent game," said Morrow coach Candice Jones. "Mt. Zion started coming back on us and the girls never gave up. I'm real proud of them, they've got a lot of heart."
In what could have been considered the main event of the evening, Mundy's Mill and Morrow, the two winning teams from the first inning, squared off for the second round.
In what could have reasonably been expected to be a closer game between each of the two team's previous winners, was quickly dominated by the Lady Tigers.
Mundy's Mill completed the first inning in the lead, 4-0 and continued to build from there, while only allowing a single run all game.
Thanks to pitchers Bryonne Ballard and Danika Stevens as well as pretty much the entire batting order, the Tigers triumphed 14-1 in four innings.
"We finally found another pitcher that can throw some strikes and it allowed our defense to make some plays," said Mundy's Mill coach Patrick Smith. "The hitting came around. They stayed focused and played a good game."
Play will resume tomorrow at the Lovejoy Softball Complex with Mundy's Mill playing Mt. Zion and Morrow playing Lovejoy at 5:00 p.m. the second round of the day at 7:00 p.m. will feature Mundy's Mill facing Lovejoy while Mt. Zion takes on Osbourne.