By Doug Gorman
The softball landscape might be changing in the Southern Crescent.
After winning four straight Class A titles, the ELCA Lady Chargers have some new hometown competition.
On Tuesday, the Strong Rock Lady Patriots defeated ELCA 8-0.
Strong Rock is in its first year of Georgia High School Association membership, but has already made a statement with a No. 9-ranking in the Class A gasports.com coaches' poll.
Despite all the success, Strong Rock Christian coach Eddie Wise wasn't sure how his team was going to play on the road at ELCA.
"We had senior night last night (Monday)," Wise said.
"So I wasn't sure how we were going to respond. I wasn't sure if we were going to come out flat, or if we were going to come out ready to play. It took us an inning or so, but we finally got it going."
Strong Rock started the scoring with two runs in the second inning as starting pitcher Katie Schultes and Taylor Boling each reached and scored.
The Lady Patriots added their third run of the game when Leah Couch reached on a lead-off double, scoring on Cox's second RBI single of the game to push the lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth.
Jessie Romines finished the game with two hits. Boling also reached on two singles. She also scored twice.
Schultes pitched perfect softball through three innings before Symone Ball walked to become the Lady Chargers' first base runner after coaxing a walk in the fourth.
It was ELCA's best chance to get its offense started.
After Ball worked her way on base, Fields kept the rally going with a single.
The Lady Patriots followed it up with two straight outs before Schultes walked the second batter of the inning to load the bases.
She got herself out of the jam when she ended the inning with a strikeout.
The Lady Chargers scattered a couple of hits the rest of the way thanks to Jenny Tomasello's singles in the fifth and seventh.
Strong Rock's Couch turned in the defense play of the game from center field, making a shoe-string catch and taking a hit away from Denver Burton in the sixth.
Schultes finished the game with 10 strikeouts.
The win Tuesday was Strong Rock's second this year against ELCA.
ELCA pitcher Ellis Field's kept the game close in the middle innings, retiring seven Strong Rock Christian batters in a row through the middle of the fourth to part of the sixth inning.
Leading 3-0, Strong Rock broke the game open with five runs in the top of the seventh as Megan DeLong, Romines, Ansley Hughes, and Boling each singled and later scored. Shultes also walked and scored her second run of the game.
With the win, the Lady Patriots improved their record to 14-9 overall and 3-1 in Region 9-A. ELCA dropped to 7-8 overall and 1-3 in Region 9-A.