Story and Photos by Rusty Ellis
The Upperman Lady Bees got Stone Memorial’s best shot on Tuesday, but ultimately held on for a 9-7 win to advance in the District 7/AAA Tournament.
Stone Memorial got the scoring started right away, scoring two runs in the opening frame to take a 2-0 lead. The lead wouldn’t last long however, as Kira Hancock singled in a pair of runs to knot the score.
Abigail Johnson hit a deep fly-ball that was dropped by Stone in the second, allowing for two more runs to cross the plate and pushing the Lady Bees’ lead to 4-2.
After the two teams traded runs in the third to make the score 5-3, Stone Memorial put together their best inning of the night with four in the top of the fourth to take a 7-5 lead. Chesney Cash had the big hit for the Lady Panthers, as her three-run double capped off the rally.
From that point on, Upperman’s Leah McElhaney locked down the Stone lineup and held them scoreless over the final three frames to give her team a chance to come back. Johnson hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to cut the lead down to 7-6, and Allie Jennings and Jaycee Sweeney came through with RBIs to give the Lady Bees an 8-7 advantage.
Johnson provided the final blow in the sixth inning with her second home run in as many games to put the score at the final mark of 9-7, allowing Upperman to advance in the district tournament.
“I’m really proud of our team, they played really gritty tonight,” said UHS head coach Dustin Williams. “We’re in every single game…they’ve had to grind and grit out wins, so we’re built for games like this.”
McElhaney’s performance continued her excellent senior season, as Williams says she’s been one of the biggest parts of the Lady Bees’ success in 2022.
“Leah’s been our leader in the circle all year long,” Williams said. “The girls trust her, so she goes in there and does what she does…she buckled down and got us out of the inning. From the bottom of the fourth inning on, we won the game 4-0.”
This sets up a showdown with DeKalb County on Wednesday at 5 p.m., a game that Williams knows his team will need a better start in if they want to keep the season going.
“We’ve just got to get the train rolling,” Williams said. “A lot of momentum coming our way, we could’ve used everything as a crutch…we didn’t and we put our foot down and did what we’ve done all year long. We got behind the rock and pushed it up the hill and got the job done.”