The Mary Persons Lady Bulldogs softball team will miss out on the AAAA state playoffs for the first time since 2013 after dropping its final two regular season games last week.

MP concluded a disappointing 2019 campaign with a 9-16 overall record (1-9 in Region 2-AAAA), finishing two games behind Spalding for the fourth and final spot in the Region 2-AAAA tournament. The four region tourney qualifiers, Perry, West Laurens, Upson-Lee and Spalding, will all automatically move on to the AAAA state tourney.

MP took on Perry on the road on Thursday in its region finale. The Lady Dogs fell behind 7-0 through two innings before scoring three runs in the top of the fifth to narrow their deficit to 7-3. However, the first-place Lady Panthers answered back with four runs in the bottom of the fifth to defeat MP 11-3 in five innings. Perry finished off a perfect 10-0 region regular season campaign with the win.

Two days earlier, the Lady Dogs kissed their faint state playoff hopes goodbye with a frustrating 5-4 loss to Spalding in their home finale.

MP scored two runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead, but the Lady Jaguars answered back with four runs in the top of the third to go 4-2. MP then tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run single by senior Emmalee Hayman. MP had a chance to take the lead with runners on second and third and one out, but Spalding’s Lindsey Foster fanned back-to-back batters, Emma Heath and Mallory Turner, respectively, to end the threat.

Spalding’s Madison Chambers then led off the top of the seventh with a solo homer to left-center off of Turner to put the Lady Jags in front 5-4. After Foster got two quick outs in the bottom of the frame, Alissa Rozier and Nazari Jackson recorded back-to-back singles. Both runners then moved up a base on a wild pitch, but MP’s Victoria Vining grounded out sharply to second base for the game’s final out, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs.

Meanwhile, the Monroe County Middle School softball team wrapped up its home schedule with a 16-8 victory over Clifton Ridge in five innings on Thursday.

The C-Team Lady Dogs, 7-6 overall, were scheduled to conclude their 2019 regular season campaign with a road contest at Gray Station at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Monroe County will need to beat the Lady Greyhounds in order to qualify for the area playoffs.

C-Team head coach Adair Woodward said it’s been an up-and-down year so far. “We haven’t played a complete game yet,” Woodward said. “Every single game we’ve played, we’ve either struggled offensively or we’ve struggled defensively.”

On Thursday, Clifton Ridge scored three runs in the first inning against Monroe County starter Qua’Nesha Brown, including a leadoff home run that caromed off the scoreboard beyond the right-centerfield fence. The C-Team Lady Dogs then answered with four runs of their own, the first on a roller to short by Emma Jordan. MP then scored a pair on a two-run triple to left-center by seventh grader Anaja Lucear before Lucear came around to score on a Lady Cougars’ throwing error.

Clifton Ridge then scored three more runs in the top of the second to go up 6-4 before Monroe County fired back with two runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by MaKenzie Hicks followed by Hicks scoring on a wild pitch to even the game at 6-6.

Clifton Ridge then took its third and final lead in the top of the third, going up 7-6. However, MP responded with four runs in the bottom of the third, primarily off of Lady Cougars’ infield errors, to take the lead for good at 10-7. Although Clifton Ridge scored one run in the top of the fourth, Monroe County widened its lead with two more in the bottom of the fourth to go ahead by four at 12-8. After Brown hurled a one-two-three top of the fifth inning, the C-Team Lady Dogs added four more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to win by mercy rule.

Monroe County used its speed to take advantage of an inconsistent Clifton Ridge defense, stealing more than 10 bases in the win. Advancing extra bases is something c-team assistant coach Josh Ward said the Lady Dogs have been focusing on all season.

“We try to stay aggressive on the bases, and we kind of go by the motto, ‘Keep pressure on the defense,’” Ward said. “Until they show us they can throw us out, we’re gonna keep taking it.”