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Arthur walk-off blasts punctuates Putnam’s state title push

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    Coaches are: head coach Bryan Arthur and assistant coaches Jonathan Chambers, Trey Thrift and Kale Kauffman. The players are Lily Arthur, Alexis Thrift, Gracynn Rios, Abby Mashburn, Mea Thrift, Madilyn Crawford, Layla Moore, Gracie Lowery, Colbie Stolley, Kenzie Nelson, Sylvie Huskins and (not pictured) Bowie King.

Taking the opportunity to win a game with her metal stick, Lily Arthur provided the latest ‘shot heard around the world,’ this one to be recorded forever in Putnam County athletic lore.

A pitcher amassing a large number of strikeouts from the circle this summer, Arthur drilled a walk-off two-run home run for the Putnam County 10 & under softball team on June 24. This switched Putnam from trailing Dawson County 3-2 to winning 4-3 and claiming the Georgia Recreation and Park Association Class A/B live pitch tournament championship at the Nathan Dean Sports Complex in Rockmart.

The win completed a remarkable run for the Putnam County team under head coach Bryan Arthur. As the host for District 6 competition one week before, Putnam found itself in three must-win situations after a day-one loss to Morgan County. Getting the chance to even things out with Morgan the following day, Putnam needed a clutch strikeout from Lily Arthur with the bases loaded to win 7-6 and force that ‘if’ game necessary in the double-elimination format.

With the state tournament slot on the line, Putnam doubled up Morgan County 16-8. Arthur fanned 40 in the three district wins.

There would be no more blemishes on the record as the girls went 3-0 in Rockmart. As the final scores would indicate, there weren’t a lot of easy feelings with those three games decided by a total of four runs.

Facing Gordon County on June 23, Putnam County won 7-6 in extra innings as the score was tied up 5-5 after five full regulation innings. Putnam, playing as the visiting team, outscored Gordon 2-1 in the sixth.

The final out of a previous inning begins an extra inning on second base, and for Gordon County this runner was able to score though Arthur was striking out the side. The tying and potential winning runs were in scoring position, but Arthur made the right pitch at the right time much like against Morgan County at District (even the same final score). For the game, Arthur fanned 13 batters.

Gordon County led 3-1 after two innings, but in the third hits from Sylvie Huskins and Arthur, all with two out, led to two runs. Putnam County was within one run at 4-3.

Arthur’s hit was a home run. She would hit one over the fence in each of Putnam’s three contests.

It was 5-3 Gordon going into the fifth, but as Arthur retired the side in order her offense produced a tying rally. With the bases full and two out, both Colbie Stolley and Kenzi Nelson walked.

The important game followed, Putnam taking on Dawson County for the first time. The winner would be one victory away from the championship and receive the benefit of awaiting the outcome of a final elimination game the following morning. In the end, it was Putnam back on top 10-8.

Putnam overcame another significant deficit after taking a 3-1 lead, scoring two runs on four hits to break a 1-1 tie in the second inning. Those hits came from Crawford, Abby Mashbrow, Huskins and Rios.

Dawson County had a five-run top of the third inning to lead by three, but Putnam plated four in its half. Nelson tripled and Crawford singled in this frame.

Arthur added a home run in a two-run fourth inning, which broke a 7-7 tie. She struck out nine from the circle.

Dawson County defeated Gordon in the final elimination tilt June 24.

Putnam, with the championship at stake, led 2-1 after two innings. Arthur doubled and scored in the first inning while Nelson rounded the bases back home after a single in the second. But Dawson shut down the Putnam offense for two innings and scored two times in the fourth to lead 3-2.

To complete the game with shutout softball, Arthur faced the minimum number of batters after surrendering the lead. In all, she recorded 13 total strikeouts. Putnam had gone three innings without scoring (leaving the bases loaded in the fourth) prior to winning the game in the sixth.

In this case, the sixth was not an extra frame. Gracynn Rios earned her way on to be the tying run ahead of Arthur’s winning run.

“Good plays were made at first base by Colbie Stolley. Gracynn Rios made great throws from shortstop. Kenzi Nelson was great at the bat and getting on base,” said coach Arthur. “Our pitcher, Lily Arthur, and catcher, Alexis Thrift, were an incredible duo. Alexis made great stops as catcher. Both girls were under a lot of pressure but came out on top in the end.

“This team of girls worked hard and worked together, always cheering each other on and never giving up.”