When the two high school softball teams met for the first time, the final score was of the football variety with the final margin of a field goal.
In the Putnam County High-Lake Oconee Academy rematch Aug. 26 on the War Eagle field, there was a little less scoring, this time with a PAT’s worth of difference.
Aggressive baserunning led to some mishandling of the softball late, and Lake Oconee Academy survived the battle 7-6. That completed a sweep of the 2021 season series with the War Eagles as the Titans won on their home field 15-12 Aug. 11.
For Putnam County, the week ended with an 0-3 showing and 2-6 record overall. The War Eagles began Region 4-AA play at Jefferson County on Aug. 25, and a game that was tied 3-3 in the fourth inning turned into an 11-3 win for Jefferson. The following day at home, Alcovy High from Covington blanked Putnam County 8-0 in five innings.
In the home meeting with Lake Oconee Academy, it looked like another game with a pinball-pace of scoring. The Titans came out swinging the bats hard ripping six hits – one a double from Gracie Stanford – for four runs.
Putnam County pitcher Sara Hulsey worked out of the inning striking out the ninth batter of the turn and stranding two Titans in scoring position.
The War Eagles also batted around in the bottom of the first, but the only one to get a hit was Jada McDerment. Her single to right loaded the bases after two walks. That remained the situation with two outs, but Hulsey and Giana Hamlin earned RBI walks, and a wild pitch got Putnam within one run, 4-3.
That inning ended with the bases loaded. The pitchers, Hulsey and Jacy Singleton of the Titans, brought the offense to a halt over the next three innings. Hulsey allowed two base-runners and struck out three in that span while Singleton scattered two singles by Hamlin and BreShyla Farley.
Each team had mistakes in the field leading to a dramatic finish. In the top of the fifth, Lake Oconee Academy put two on to start, and they scored from an infield single compounded by a throwing error.
Down 6-3, Putnam couldn’t take advantage of a bases-loaded rally in the home fifth. Hulsey’s perfect top of the sixth, though, set her team up to pull even.
Farley led off the bottom half with a bunt single. The softball was live when Farley took second base, and she coaxed a throw towards third that went awry allowing her to score.
With Jenna McDerment on base with two outs, KaNiyah Robertson tripled and scored the tying run on an error.
But errors can help as well as hurt, and Titan Ava Johnson singled and completed a trip around the bases on two miscues for the deciding run.
Hulsey struck out seven.
Robertson had the only hit for Putnam in the loss to Alcovy, and that was a triple. She also made a clutch catch vs. LOA in centerfield as did Aleah Guthrie in left field after her call up from the junior varsity.
Coach Brad Snowden said injuries have hit the War Eagle roster leaving them with one substitute player in those two home games. But it gave younger players a chance to gain experience on varsity.
“This is the second time I’ve told them (after playing LOA) we lost, but I couldn’t be prouder because of what they are showing me,” said coach Sydney Lack. “I see effort, fight. They don’t give up. Yes, we did come away with a loss, but in my eyes it’s part of a win because of the potential I see. You can see they are proud of themselves for the way they played.”
Lack said she feels the outcomes will change once they get the little things down. She said there’s still a lot of youth out there and they need to keep working in order to mesh.
Putnam County’s next home game is also the first home region softball game on Sept. 2 against Josey High at 5 p.m.