Lupo, McKay recognized on Tiftarea Senior Night

Tiftarea Academy seniors Sara Kate Lupo (left) and Morgan McKay.

CHULA - Tiftarea celebrated a pair of seniors Tuesday evening at the softball field, but Valwood took home the victory.

The Lady Valiants scored two runs in the top of the seventh, spoiling a big night for Morgan McKay and Sara Kate Lupo, Tiftarea's two 12th graders.

Graceigh Booth led off the top of the seventh with a bloop single. An error allowed Gailey Shaw aboard and moved Booth to second. Both scored on a one-out MaryClare Martin double.

Lupo doubled in the bottom of the inning down the right field line, but Darcee Brown got the next two runners out to finish the game.

Until Valwood's final frame rally, Tiftarea led throughout the contest. A Lupo groundout brought home Elli Bryan, who had been previously hit by a pitch and moved to third on an error.

Bryan had the big hit in the second inning, when Tiftarea produced three more runs. Laura Ann Jones led off with a hit-by-pitch, went to second on Madi Hartsfield's hit and to third when Ali Strenth's infield single loaded the bases.

McKay knocked in Jones, then Bryan followed with a single to left to bring in Hartsfield and Strenth.

Valwood used an error to set up its first run. Natalie Rojas took three bases on the miscue before scoring in an unlikely way.

Catcher McKay dove towards first to snag an Ansley Bennett pop-up. She made perhaps the play of the year. An alert Rojas turned it into a sacrifice fly by hustling home on the play.

Two more Lady Valiants runs came across in the fifth on Martin's double to the left field wall. Booth and Rojas touched home, turning a 4-1 lead into a slimmer 4-3 margin.

Valwood stymied a potential Tiftarea rally in the bottom half of the sixth. Strenth singled and McKay doubled with two outs. A pop-out left both in scoring position.

Brown earned the win in the circle.

"They mean a lot," said head coach Chance Benson of his seniors. This is his first year coaching softball at Tiftarea and Lupo and McKay were key in making sure the transition went smoothly for both sides.

"They showed no resentment, no entitlement," he said.

Benson was pleased that both had solid games on Senior Night. Lupo threw a complete game, hit a double and drove in a run.

Besides laying out for the catch, McKay went 2-for-3, with a double and an RBI.

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