I’ll be the first to tell you that growing up I was never athletic. People always seem to find that hard to believe since I’m a sports reporter. But there was a time that I was really interested in trying softball.
When I was little (aka the age I should’ve started playing a sport if I wanted to be any good at it) I never really knew about or watched softball. When I got into middle school, I had a friend who played and showed me an incredible video of a softball player shattering a piece of glass from her fast-pitch. It was obvious that she was extremely strong and worked very hard to be one of the best in her sport.
I was inspired to say the least, and I almost signed up to join a church league with another friend of mine. But sadly at that point it was too late for me, and I think it was for the better anyway. Combine my age and lack of experience with my lack of athleticism and I probably would’ve been a guaranteed bench warmer.
Anyway, the point of this week’s edition of Sports talk Thursday is not to mope about my sad past with athletics, but to praise these hardworking ladies for what they do. And covering the Lumpkin County Lady Indians softball team as well as some of the other local high school teams has truly opened my eyes to what an incredible sport softball is. And while most of my experience is with Lumpkin County because I cover them on a regular basis, these are observations that I’ve made about high school teams across the board.
The first thing I love about softball is how encouraging the players are for their teammates. Unlike softball or basketball that are typically played in louder conditions, the atmosphere for softball is fairly quiet. So it’s easy for the players to make themselves heard when they’re cheering each other on, and I assume it’s also necessary in some instances to keep them going! There’s never a quiet moment at a Lumpkin County softball game, because whether it’s for the batter when they’re at the plate or the pitcher when they’re on the mound, the Lady Indians are always chanting words of encouragement. And when I’ve traveled to cover the team at other high schools, the other team is the same way. And not only do the teams encourage their own teammates, they’ll also give a shout out to players of the opposing team if they make a good play.
The athleticism of the players is another thing that blows me away about softball. I’ve seen basemen go into full- on splits to make a catch for an out, numerous running catches and a couple diving/rolling catches. On offense there have been several out-of-the-park home runs (a couple lead-offs!) and other perfectly timed triples, doubles and singles to bring the team ahead. This isn’t to say that I would expect anything less from a group of hardworking women, but it amazes me nonetheless. Possibly because there’s no way in this world I could do that stuff myself!
As a sports reporter it’s always exciting to catch that perfect moment on camera when the ball connects with the bat for a home run. Then to be able to share that moment with the player or their family makes the job so rewarding. I know as a reporter I’m not *technically* supposed to show favoritism at a game, but there have been several times I’ve had to sit on my hands to keep from cheering when there was a great hit or awesome play on defense.
Long story short- these young women work hard, you should come watch them, and I’ve enjoyed covering them.
Although the Lady Rebels lost six seniors last season, they are using this year to rebuild and come back as strong as ever. Last night, the Lady Rebels Softball team took on the Denmark Danes from Forsyth County. Fannin looked to come back from their previous 9-1 loss to Denmark and had the home field advantage this time around.
The Danes bats were hot in the first inning as they attacked the ball and put it into action. Despite freshman pitcher, Josilynn Newton, and her great throws across the plate, Denmark kept hitting the ball in all of the right places to put five runs on the board. Newton pitched a total of 2.2 innings and struck out two batters overall. When it came time for Fannin to play offense, Denmark’s defense outweighed them. With two runners on base, Kayleigh Russell (recent commit to Bryan College Softball), got things started for the Rebels offense. Russell put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third base with only one out. While the Rebels may have been in perfect scoring position, Denmark was able to get two more outs and close the inning with a 5-0 lead.
To start off the second inning, Fannin’s defense struggled. The bases were loaded and there were no outs until Russell was hit a ground ball where she got an out at third base to earn the first out of the inning. Denmark was able to score two more runs before seniors, Emily Waldrep and Kaelyn Hensley, caught pop fly’s in the outfield for the last two outs. The Danes refused to give up their 7-0 lead as they had a perfect three up and three down outs to close the second inning.
Sophomore, Riley Davis (who hit two out of the park home runs the day before against Gordon Central), showed off her hustle at shortstop where she dove to stop the ball from going into the gap and kept the runner from advancing to second base. The Danes managed to load the bases once again and earned three more runs before senior, Cassidey Nichols, came into pitch. Nichols allowed only one more run to score before Fannin made the third out. The Rebels energy started to come alive as they swung the bats. It was back to the top of the line up where Waldrep was walked and took her place on first base when Davis advanced her to second by taking a pitch to the legs. Russell came up to the plate as a power hitter when she hit a ball in the gap, straight through the shortstop. Kayleigh found herself standing on second base as her hit brought Waldrep home for the first run of the game. Eryn Mealer was ready to continue the trend when she hit a pop fly to left field for Denmark to catch, but proved to be unsuccessful in their attempt to throw Davis out as she advanced to home plate. Junior, Emma Mitchell, kept the momentum going as she made it to first base from a defensive error and brought Russell home. Nichols earned a double by hitting a bomb to center field and advanced Mitchell to third base just for Newton to hit her home. When the Danes finally earned their third out, they still had the lead with a score of 11-4.
Fannin almost had a perfect three up, three down outs with the exception of one batter making it to first base from a walk. Russell made the first out with a caught line drive at third base, Hensley made the second in right field with a caught pop fly, and freshman, Zoe Putnam, earned the third when she turned her back from second base and ran to catch a pop fly behind her. The Rebels were finally able to hold the Danes for an inning and were ready to hit like they did the last time. While they may have had good intentions, pop fly’s and strikeouts kept Fannin from scoring any runs and left Denmark ahead 11-4.
The Danes took the plate with the same energy the Rebels did. With bases loaded, Denmark hit a bullet right through third base to Peyton Bearden in left field. The hit brought one run to the plate. After the Danes scored one more run, Hensley came in from right field and took the mound. After two more runs score, Davis was the one to get the first out at shortstop by throwing to third base as a runner advanced home. The Rebels were able to earn their last two outs back to back as Putnam caught a pop fly at second base, and Mitchell stopped a ground ball at first base. Denmark was ready to close out the game after Russell was walked to first base. Mealer put the ball into action right where the Dane’s second basemen was able to make a double play. The Danes got their third and final out right after with a grounder to first base. The game ended with a run rule as Denmark walked away with a 17-4 victory.
While they have yet to play any region games, Fannin’s overall record stands at 0-4. Catch the Lady Rebels next game at Model High School tomorrow where they will be playing a double header, starting at 10 am!
If any of you are under the age of 18 and reading this article, then I imagine this week was probably a tough week for you. I say that because the majority of schools in the state of Georgia started back this week.
I can remember being in high school and having a knot of dread in my stomach the night before the first day of school. I’ve never been a morning person, so having to get up early was my first problem. Add in all of the homework and having to spend my days in one building…it was easy to tell I wasn’t a school person.
The good news is there was always one bright spot in all of this gloom, and that was football season. I know I’ve said it before on our sports show, Instant Replay, and probably in this column as well, but in high school I lived for football season. I never missed a game, home or away. Granted I was in the colorguard with the marching band, so most of the time I HAD to go. But I can still remember a handful of games where we weren’t required to go, and some of my friends got together and still went anyway.
Those were good times, but I dare to say that these are even better. I’m thankful to have a job that pays me to follow a sport that I love. But on the other hand, it’s a job that’s helping me to get an inside look on other sports that are sometimes forgotten, especially in the South where football is a religion.
I covered my first softball game on Tuesday. I have watched and worked softball games in the past, so in my defense I knew what to expect, but it was my first time reporting on a game. It was the Lumpkin County Lady Indians against the Pickens Dragonettes in the Lady Indians home opener. One thing I loved about this game was that it wasn’t just smooth sailing, if you will. Just to give a brief recap, the Nettes put three runs on the board first. By the fifth inning, it was looking as though the Lady Indians might lose their home opener. But as with all great teams, the Lady Indians weren’t going down without a fight and ended up coming back to win 4-3. Ironically, I went to the next game where they played each other tonight and the Nettes ended up winning 9-4.
Softball is just one of several high school sports that is played in the fall. There’s also volleyball and cross country. While I haven’t gotten the chance to go cover either of these events yet, I know that I probably will be in the near future.
I’ve never personally played volleyball competitively, but I know several people who have. And from what I do know about it, there’s more technique to setting and hitting the ball than there seems. Whenever I play for fun at the beach I just feel lucky to get it over the net. But there are certain ways to prepare before you serve the ball and where to place your feet when you’re in an official match. I don’t see how players keep up with everything, other than that they practice. I know it’s got to feel great whenever you take all of your frustration out by smacking the ball.
Now I enjoy running, but I could never run cross country. I’ve seen the joke that says “my sport is your sport’s punishment” and to be honest, that’s how I feel because I don’t know how they do it. I can remember talking to cross country runners in high school, and them telling me that they would get up at 6 a.m. to run. And for some of them, the distances they would run blew my mind. But the other incredible thing to me about cross country is how much of a mental sport it is. Not only do runners have to be trained physically to maintain a certain time, they also have to be trained physically to encourage themselves to keep going.
The point I’m trying to make is that even though I’m still learning about other sports, I respect them because I do know how hard they work. I see the social media posts, I know people that play, and I see the teams out practicing well before their season starts. And even though the summer is ending and we’re back to school, the exciting thing is we’re past the days of camps and well on our way to the actual competition. I can’t wait to see what all of these young athletes accomplish.
On 9/29, the Lady Rebels softball team traveled to Dawson County to kick off the region tournament. The teams would be playing a double header that day to determine who would move on to the playoffs. The steaks were high and both teams came ready to play.
For the first game of the day, Fannin started off batting. Dawson came out and got an early lead over Fannin where they put one run on the board just for the Rebels to tie it up in the second. It was an even game until the sixth inning where Fannin started to put the ball into action and added four runs to their score. Fannin had a great offensive game where they earned ten hits while Dawson earned seven. Senior, Macy Galloway, led Fannin in hits for the night with three over seven innings. Galloway was followed by seniors, Maleah Stepp and Alicia Jones who each had two hits for the game. All three of the seniors had an RBI for the game. Senior pitcher, Amelia Sneed, earned two strikeouts throughout the game and claimed the 6-3 victory over the Lady Tigers.
After a short break, the teams were ready to take on their second game of the day. This go around, Fannin would take the place as the home team and hit the field first. Both teams put up a fight on defense for three innings until Dawson was able to score one run in the fourth. The Tigers continued to score and Fannin responded in the bottom of the fifth with two runs. Rebel junior, Emily Waldrep, was the big hitter for the game with her two hits. Senior, Maleah Stepp, earned two RBI’s for Fannin and contributed to the score. Although Fannin out hit Dawson 8 to 7, the Lady Tigers walked away with a 4-2 victory over the Lady Rebels. With both teams winning one and losing one, they were matched up to compete at Dawson again the next Monday.
On 10/01, Fannin traveled back to Dawson County for their final game. The winner would be moving on into playoffs while this would be the losers last game. The coin toss before the game determined that Fannin would once again take the spot as the home team and take the field first. Fannin was ready for a game like the last when Dawson’s hitting came alive. After so many games against the same pitching, both teams started to adjust at the plate and made things happen. The Lady Tigers were hitting the ball in all of the right places and putting runs on the board while Fannin was still trying to adjust to their offense. The Lady Rebels started to hit in the bottom of the third and managed to get one run on the board before Dawson closed out the inning. Senior, Macy Galloway, earned three RBI’s throughout the game and added to Fannin’s score. Both teams had a perfect defense by not allowing any errors in the field. Amelia Sneed, pitched a great game for Fannin by earning two strikeouts. It was a high hitting game where Dawson County out hit Fannin 15 to 12. Despite both teams hustle and heart, Dawson County walked away with a 7-5 victory over Fannin. The Lady Rebels had a great season where they kept improving from the beginning and finished with an overall record of 11-15.
On 9/25, the Lady Rebels softball team prepared to take the field for their last home game as they took on Dawson County. Although the night came with many emotions, the Rebels were determined to play their last home game with everything they had.
Fannin took the field in their all black uniforms, ready to put up a fight for a win. The Lady Rebels wanted a win and you could tell by their performance on the field. The Rebels had a solid defense for two innings where they kept the Tigers from scoring any runs. All of the seniors played a huge role in Fannin’s defense for the night. Maleah Stepp in center and Reagan Young in right had a great night in the outfield full of great catches, Kyla Seabolt was aggressive at third base where she got big outs, Macy Galloway at short and Alicia Jones at second had some great snags in the infield that resulted in outs, and Amelia Sneed pitched a great game where she struck out five batters. As Fannin held Dawson on defense, the Rebels started to make things happen on offense. Stepp and Jones led the Rebels in hits for the night with two a piece. Over the first two innings, Fannin scored one run in each, resulting in a 2-0 lead.
The teams reversed roles for the next two innings where Dawson took the lead. The Tigers scored two runs in both the third and fourth inning as they held Fannin on defense. Dawson was ahead 4-2 going into the fifth inning when they managed to add another run to their score and held Fannin.
Both teams put up a fight in the sixth inning where they refused to let the other score. Fannin finally broke the trend at the bottom of the seventh inning where they scored two more runs. Although the Lady Rebels out hit the Lady Tigers 8 to 3, they were unable to put the runs on the board to catch up to Dawson. After an intense back and forth game, Fannin endured a heartbreaking loss of 5-4 to the Lady Tigers. Fannin’s loss put their overall record at 10-13 and their region record at 3-8.
On 9/24, the Lumpkin County softball team traveled from Dahlonega to take on the Lady Rebels. Fannin had just come from a win the game prior to the matchup and looked to continue the trend while Lumpkin sought to remain undefeated. It was an important week for the Lady Rebels where they would play three region games that would determine their ranking.
The Lady Indians started off with too much heat for the Rebels to take. They had a strong offensive game by being able to determine where they hit the ball. When they saw that the outfield was deep, they hit short. When the defense was playing up, they would hit it to the fence.
Lumpkin put eight runs on the board before Fannin began to adjust their defense. Amelia Sneed pitched a great game for Fannin, but was throwing right in Lumpkin’s power house. During the first inning, Fannin put in Kaelyn Hensley for a change in speed. When Fannin finally got their three outs, they managed to only get one run on the board to end the inning.
Fannin managed to adjust to the Indians offense for the next few innings. The Rebels scored five more runs while they only allowed the Indians to score one run until the sixth inning.
With the score at 9-6 in the sixth inning, Lumpkin found their second wind. They started hitting like they did in the first inning and added six runs to their score. When Fannin went up to bat in an attempt to make a comeback, Lumpkin earned three outs before the Rebels could score a run. The Lady Indians closed out the game in the sixth inning with a 15-6 victory over Fannin.
Lumpkin out hit Fannin 16-9 over six innings of play. Lady Rebel, Emily Waldrep, played a major role in Fannin’s offensive game for the night where she had three RBI’s. While fannin had six errors on defense, Lumpkin only had one.
The Lady Rebels loss put their overall record at 10-12 and their region record at 3-7. Lumpkin got to keep their undefeated streak, and remained at the number spot in the region.
On 9/20 the Lady Rebels softball team traveled to Rabun County to take on the the Lady Wildcats for their senior night. Fannin had just come from a win over Chestatee the game before and looked to continue their streak. Rabun looked to redeem themselves from their first game against Fannin where they lost 9-0.
Fannin started off hot on offense where they put four runs on the board before Rabun could get their three outs. Alicia Jones and Riley Davis led Fannin in hits for the night with two a piece. Kayleigh Russell added to Fannin’s score with two RBI’s, followed by Alicia Jones with one. Fannin continued to add on to their score as they held Rabun on offense until the fourth inning where they reversed roles.
After Fannin kept adding onto their score and holding Rabun at zero for three innings, the Lady Wildcats started to score as they held Fannin. The last few innings they did score, Fannin only allowed Rabun to score one run in each.
Maleah Stepp had a great night on defense for the Lady Rebels with multiple diving catches in center field. Amelia Sneed had four strikeouts over seven innings on the mound for Fannin. While Rabun made six errors on defense, Fannin only made three.
Both teams had eight hits for the night, but Fannin was able to put more runs on the board. At the end of the seventh inning, Fannin found themselves with a 7-3 victory over the Lady Wildcats. The Lady rebels win put their overall record at 10-11 while their region record remained the same at 3-6.