CHULA - One of these days, Tiftarea Academy will finish a home softball games.
They're getting closer. Thursday was the Lady Panthers' third attempt at a home opener. Citizens Christian had to be rescheduled. Deerfield-Windsor was rained out. This time, they made it through four innings against Terrell Academy with a 2-0 lead before the bad weather arrived.
The game stopped for nearby lightning before Terrell came up to bat in the fifth frame. Both teams stuck around, but never got closer to playing before coaches and umpires agreed to call it. As Terrell was loading up its van, rain began falling.
Head coach Chance Benson was going to contact the GISA to see if the sides had played enough innings for a decision. Regardless, it was quite a home opener.
McKenna McCard threw four no-hit innings for the Lady Panthers and struck out 10 in the process.
After the game, McCard she felt good. She has thrown no-hitters before, but this is her first at the high school varsity level.
"I'm glad to have a team to back me up," she said.
McCard hit a batter in the first inning - the only blemish on her day's work - but catcher Elli Bryan threw to Madi Hartsfield at third to catch the same batter attempting to steal.
Starting in the second inning, the game might as well have been just Bryan and McCard. McCard struck out nine straight hitters, few making any contact at all.
It did not hit Benson until after the game that his pitcher failed to give up a hit. "I knew she was hitting her spots," he said.
McCard had good stuff, he said. "She mixed it up well." When batters began to catch on to an outside pitch, she'd throw a screwball inside.
For its part, Tiftarea had runners on every inning, but only scored two of them. Sara Beth Royal singled in Bryan and Mackenzie Matthews in the first inning. Bryan reached base after being hit by a pitch. McCard looped a pitch to center before Sara-Kate Lupo singled through Bryan's legs to load the bases for Royal.
McCard and Lupo each had two hits for the game.
"I want us to keep progressing toward region," said Benson.
Tiftarea will play non-region games next Tuesday at Brookwood School and next Thursday at Valwood.