TIFTON - Tift County dropped its regular season opening game to Coffee Monday, 11-1.
The Lady Devils and Coffee were neck-and-neck nearly all the way, but a big seventh inning allowed the visitors from Douglas to put the game away.
Tift, playing under new head coach Taylor Barber, fell behind early following a single Coffee run in the second inning. The Lady Trojans tacked on two more in the fourth, one of them earned, for a 3-0 lead.
That's when the locals' bats came alive.
Alaina Stephens drilled a double to centerfield to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Coffee recorded two quick outs, but Paige Hill hit a fall to left that evaded a fielder's glove and Stephens cut the lead to 3-1.
The score stayed that way until the big seventh frame. In between, the Lady Devils made Coffee jittery by continuing to get on base.
Madison Smith worked a walk after falling behind 0-2 in the fifth, then advanced to scoring position following Alayna Davis' sacrifice bunt. In the sixth, it was a leadoff single from Josie Bullington.
Meagan Taylor was Tift's starting pitcher Monday. After she ran into trouble in the fourth, Abi Sumner ended the inning by forcing a grounder. Sumner lasted until the seventh and Smith finished up the game in the circle.
"I thought we played well for six innings," said Barber, whose team defeated Worth County 13-0 in a scrimmage last week.
"The defense played well enough. The pitchers did well working out of jams," he said. Barber liked his team's effort, saying they were aggressive in the batter's box and didn't let the deficit affect them mentally. "They continued to fight," he said.
Tift's varsity squad will be back in action Friday for a doubleheader at Morgan County. They'll face the host team and Newton. Saturday, they travel over to nearby Eastside.