Lady Devils upset Colquitt, split softball series

Tift's Alaina Stephens slides safely into home after scoring on a wild pitch Thursday.

TIFTON - Tift County handed Colquitt County just its second loss of the season Thursday afternoon on the softball field.

The Lady Devils scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the opening game of a doubleheader, 7-5. Colquitt struck back in the nightcap, taking an 11-0 decision in six innings.

Tift head coach Taylor Barber said he was "real proud" of the way his team played in the opener.

Colquitt had a 2-0 advantage after the top of the first, then Tift notched three runs in the bottom half. The Lady Packers regained the advantage with two runs in the fourth. Tift tied it at 4-4 before a run in the sixth put Colquitt up 5-4.

Up at the plate in the bottom of the sixth, Emily Henderson worked a walk against freshman phenom pitcher Emily Allegood. Morgen Ray joined her on the basepaths after another free pass. Allegood got an infield grounder for the second out of the inning, but then Josie Bullington blasted a double over the left fielder's head. Both runners scored to give the Lady Devils the advantage.

Not content with a slim lead, Abi Sumner singled to center, driving home Bullington.

All that was left was for starting pitcher Paige Hill was to record three outs in the seventh. Bullington provided defensive assistance by snagging a line drive at first and two ground balls ended the game.

"We continued to get hit in the mouth," said Barber. After every symbolic punch, they responded. He said he told his crew, "I want to see you get up."

Colquitt first dented the scoreboard on a pair of singles. Abby Plymel drove in Abeny Thomas and Marlie Wingate drove home Plymel. Tift came back by loading the bases with Henderson, Alaina Stephens and Bullington, all of whom earned free passes. Sumner drove in Henderson with a base hit, with the other two sliding home on wild pitches.

Among the defensive plays that stood out to Barber was one by third baseman Niambi Battle. The Lady Pack had runners at second and third with one out in the third when Battle grabbed a line drive and tagged the runner scrambling back to third.

Tift miscues helped Colquitt rack up runs in the nightcap. Callie Faircloth squeezed in Madison Plymel for a 1-0 lead in the second frame before Colquitt touched their hosts for four runs in the third. Both Sarah Harrell and Kelsey Patel had sacrifice flies in that span.

Sumner started in the circle for the Lady Devils, with Hill entering in the fourth. Jade Horne pitched a complete game for Colquitt. Ray led Tift with two singles.

Barber said he and his staff would have to find a way to keep the squad's energy level up in the second games of their region doubleheaders. In each, they have had three hits or less. He did praise the squad to living up to a pair of goals this year. The opening game was their sixth win of the season, matching last year's total. They have also won two region games, equalling the total of the past three seasons.

Tift is scheduled to go to Thomas County Central next week before hosting Lowndes in a Thursday doubleheader.

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