By Kristen Stevens
Daily Times Leader
Two weeks of two-a-day practices paid off Saturday for Marion Bratton’s Lady Raiders.
With temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, the softball players weathered the heat and swept the tournament with victories over area rivalries Macon Central, Heritage and Starkville Academies.
Sophomore standout, Mamie Allen, pitched all three games, pacing herself accordingly, knowing that her backup, fellow sophomore, Maegan Ellis, was nursing an injured back. Her injury did not keep her from playing third base, however.
“I didn’t want Mamie to throw three games, but with Maegan hurt I didn’t have a solution for that yet. She paced herself and threw her best game against Starkville. She knew it was going to get hotter and the competition stiffer. I was proud of her for enduring,” said head coach Bratton.
Oak Hill pulled ahead of Starkville in the second inning with a two run RBI by Lauren Hitt sending Abby Falkner and Tori Ellis over the home plate. Starkville came back in the third inning scoring two runs, taking advantage of infield errors. Maegen Ellis scored in the bottom of the third, tying up the game for Oak Hill on an RBI double by senior Mary Helon Hays, who missed last year’s season due to injury.
Oak Hill shut down Starkville for good in the top of the fourth and took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a run by Tori Ellis who scored on an RBI by Maegan Ellis. Allen made short business of the top of the fifth inning and the Lady Raiders scored twice in the bottom of the fifth with Hays scoring on a single RBI by Tori Ellis and Falkner scoring on a single RBI by Lauren Hitt.
The Lady Raiders finished the game 8-3 by adding two more runs by Anna Lummus who doubled then scored on an RBI by Hays and Mamie Allen who singled and then scored on an RBI by Falkner.
“We got better as the day progressed. By the third game, the girls knew they could win. I like to see that. They weren’t really awake during the first game,” said Bratton.
“I felt we left runners on a couple of times, especially in the first game, and we had some pop ups that hurt us. I felt like our girls were in shape. I don’t think the heat hurt them. I kept an eye on their faces, and they didn’t look like they were struggling.
I think we will continue the two a day practices in the future for the conditioning.
I’m very pleased with results of Saturday. I have to remind them to treat every game as a championship game. My girls typically try to do everything I ask of them. I am very proud of them,” the seasoned coach said.
Oak Hill beat Central Academy in the first game of the day 6-2 and Heritage Academy 8-4. The team has a rematch against Heritage on Tuesday at Heritage at 4 p.m. The Lady Raiders will play their first district game against Carroll Academy at Carroll on Thursday, August 5, at 5 p.m.