On Thursday night against Sand Rock in the Cherokee County Tournament championship game at Gaylesville, Moon’s work at the plate paid dividends once again.
She belted a three-run homer to centerfield in the bottom of the first inning, providing senior pitcher Tori Davis all the run support she would need in a 5-0 victory in 4 ½ innings. It’s the seventh straight Cherokee County softball championship the Class 4A, No. 3 Lady Warriors (12-1) have won.
The championship game was the second time in as many weeks Cherokee County and Class 2A, No. 6 Sand Rock (12-3) played for a tournament title. Cherokee County defeated Sand Rock in the Cherokee Invitational title game 4-0 last Saturday.
“I didn’t want to let my team down,” said Moon, who now has three home runs this season. “That first game against them (last Saturday), I didn’t do too good with their pitcher (McKenna Morgan). This game, I wanted to come back and do better.”
Barnes said Moon’s shot on Thursday gave the Lady Warriors “a big momentum boost.”
“I’m proud for her stepping into the five-hole slot and getting us going with that 3-run home run,” Barnes said. “She’s really taken it upon herself this year to get better. I think she was disappointed in the way she performed last year. She’s been putting in a lot of work, and it’s paying off.”
Davis was also proud of Moon for giving her room to work in the circle. She gave up six hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in near-freezing temperatures.
“That three-run homer really helped us and relieved the nervousness inside us,” Davis said. “It made us play better. I’m proud of her and thankful she did it to give us a cushion. It gave us a feeling that we could do this.”
Molly Brewer and Madison Millsaps both singled to left ahead of Moon in the first inning, who came to the plate with two outs.
The Lady Warriors tacked on single runs in the third and fourth innings. Davis helped her own cause with a double to left center in the third that scored Brewer, who walked to lead off the inning. Brewer accounted for the other Lady Warrior run in the fourth with a single to left center that scored Jessen Burk, who walked with one out.
Brewer went 2-for-2 at the plate with a walk and a RBI. Davis was also 2-for-2 with a RBI.
Morgan suffered the loss for Sand Rock. She gave up all five Lady Warrior runs on seven hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts.
“McKenna did a great job for us,” Sand Rock coach Josh Bates said. “For the most part, she did a good job moving her pitches around, getting us ground balls and getting us outs. I thought we played well, but we just didn’t string our hits together.”
Hannah Oliver led the Lady Wildcats at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a triple. Madison Smith added a double. Morgan and Taylor Rogers were both 1-for-2. Megan McCullough went 1-for-3.
“Sand Rock hit the ball really well tonight, but we made some good defensive plays behind Tori,” Barnes said. “When another team gets a runner on base, she seems to really take it to another level. She can focus even more than she was with nobody on base. She’s just a really good pitcher. I thought the cold weather might have slowed her down some tonight, but she came to play.”
Added Bates: “We had more hits on them tonight than we did last Saturday. Maybe we’ve got a little bit of a mental block when we see Warriors across the jersey, but we’ll get there. It’s good to play them. It’s good to see that type of pitching. It’s good for us to have that experience for later on this season.”
Davis said she’s proud to be part of a senior class that’s never lost a county softball championship.
“Even though I didn’t play much my seventh and eighth grade years, I was still in the dugout cheering them on,” she said. “Now, we have our younger girls in the dugout and they do a wonderful job backing us up. Seven in a row for our seniors (Darbie Rosser, Chelsea Ray, Madison Brannon and Davis) is great. Seven of them is just amazing. It just goes to show what a great job Coach Barnes does coaching us. It just shows how much this team wants to win.”
Cherokee County 10, Spring Garden 0
GAYLESVILLE – Madison Millsaps blasted a 3-run homer to center in the fourth inning and finished 2-for-3 at the plate in Cherokee County’s 10-0 win over Spring Garden in the Cherokee County Softball Tournament semifinals at Gaylesville on Thursday.
Darbie Rosser went 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the fourth. Davis added a two-run double to center in the third. She also had a walk. Jessen Burk had a pair of bunt singles. Molly Brewer walked twice. Kayle Moon, Madison Brannon and Kari Arnold each contributed a hit.
Davis picked up the win in the circle, tossing four of the five innings. She didn’t give up a hit or a walk and finished with seven strikeouts.
Hayden Bates suffered the loss for Spring Garden (4-5).
Sand Rock 8, Cedar Bluff 3
GAYLESVILLE – McKenna Morgan was perfect at the plate against Cedar Bluff on Thursday in the Cherokee County Softball Tournament semifinals at Gaylesville.
Morgan went 3-for-3 and also picked up the win in the circle in Sand Rock’s 8-3 victory in four innings.
Morgan surrendered just four hits and had 10 strikeouts against the Lady Tigers (5-9).
Taylor Rogers belted a three-run triple to left in the third and finished 1-for-2 at the plate for Sand Rock. Hannah Oliver was 2-for-2 and drove in two runs. Madison Smith, Courtney Williams and Haley Hulgan each contributed a hit for the Lady Wildcats.
Katie McGinnis had a RBI-triple for Cedar Bluff. Haley Kimberly added a run-scoring single. Kiana Dobbins and Jennifer Garmon both had infield singles.
Aubie Dodd suffered the loss for the Lady Tigers.
Cedar Bluff 21, Gaylesville 3
GAYLESVILLE – Cedar Bluff erupted for 10 runs in the third and 11 more in the fourth to get past Gaylesville 21-3 in the Cherokee County Softball Tournament at Gaylesville on Thursday.
Destinie Grace had a pair of two-run doubles and a walk to lead the Lady Tiger offense. Abbey Storey added a two-run single and a three-run single. She was also hit by a pitch. Katie McGinnis was 2-for-4 with a double and a two-run single. Haley Kimberly had two-run single and a pair of walks. Paige Bryant had a single and a pair of walks. Jennifer Garmon had a run-scoring single.
Gaylesville (1-7) scored all three of its runs in the third inning. Ashley Parris had a two-run single to left in the inning. She also had a walk.
Angie Calvert went 2-for-2 for the Lady Trojans. Lauren Hammett and Taylor Tomlin both went 2-for-3. Alex Montgomery finished 1-for-2 at the plate.
Hammett suffered the loss for the Lady Trojans.