SOFTBALL

Mary Persons senior Katelyn Smith hit a line-drive rope to centerfield for the final out of the bottom of the first inning in a 3-2 win over Upson-Lee on Thursday. (Photo/Richard Dumas)

The Mary Persons softball team completed a perfect week with three home wins in three nights to move into first place in Region 2-AAAA.

The Lady Dogs won a pair of heart-stopping home region contests last week by identical 3-2 scores, including a come-from-behind classic over Upson-Lee on Thursday. The victories improved MP’s overall record to 6-4 (2-0 in Region 2-AAAA).

MP capitalized on five Lady Knights’ errors in the bottom of the sixth and seven errors in all to come back from being down 2-0 and steal a 3-2 victory.

Upson-Lee scored one run in the top of the first and another in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of MP errors each time, to take a 2-0 lead against MP’s right-handed ace Megan Bell. However, in both innings, Bell stranded runners on second and third to end the respective innings and prevented the Lady Knights from blowing the game open. That would prove beneficial in the bottom of the sixth when MP’s Lori Smith ignited a spectacular two-out rally with a single to left, MP’s first hit since Destiny Middleton led off the bottom of the first with a single. With two on and two out, Bell helped her own cause with an RBI single to left after she thought she struck out one pitch prior on what was actually just her second strike. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild throw home by Upson-Lee’s leftfielder, which would prove to just be the beginning of the Lady Knights’ defensive woes.

MP’s Jordan Rozier hit a routine ground ball to third, but Upson-Lee’s third baseman made her second consecutive error, allowing two MP runs to cross to give the Lady Dogs’ an unexpected 3-2 lead.

Bell then finished off her second complete game of the week with an easy top of the seventh to close out the win.

Despite MP’s sloppy play on Thursday, MP head coach Hannah Grossman said she had little to complain about three straight much-needed wins.

“Out of the three teams we played, all of them are good teams,” Grossman said. “I feel really good about the week.”

The Upson-Lee win came one night after MP took care of business at home against non-region foe Rutland by a score of 6-1. MP’s offense banged out 12 hits in all in the win, including two each by Bell and Katelyn Smith. Meanwhile, MP lefty Emsley Smith recorded the victory on the mound.

On Tuesday night, MP hosted one of its region’s top teams in West Laurens. Bell once again pitched a complete game for the 3-2 victory, working out of numerous jams along the way including a bases-loaded fiasco in the top of the first.

MP senior Alyssah Mullis got the Lady Dogs on the scoreboard first with a towering solo blast over the centerfield flag to put MP in front 1-0 in the bottom of the first. West Laurens then tied the contest in the top of the fourth when DeAsia Lowther hit a long solo homer to left-center. MP would then reclaim the lead for good in the bottom half of the fourth on a two-run single by Rozier.

West Laurens had a chance to cut MP’s two-run advantage in half in the top of the sixth, but Bell tagged out a Lady Raiders’ runner at the plate on an attempted score off of a wild pitch. That out would prove critical one-inning later when West Laurens’ Taylor Cobb ripped a solo homer down the leftfield line to trim MP’s edge to 3-2.

With the tying run on first base, Bell forced West Laurens’ Hailey Sapp to ground out to MP third baseman Destiny Middleton, who had a sparkling defensive game, to end the contest.

“We made some really good plays tonight,” Grossman said of her team’s defense. “We changed a few things up this year with the way we set people and line people up. With our new setup on defense, we were able to get plays we normally don’t get, catching balls in the gap. Alyssah’s throw out to Megan at home, Alyssah’s throw out to Destiny at third, I mean we had some huge outs defensively. It’s what we needed against a great team like this.”