Lady Dogs takes a big home win | Sports

The GMC Prep softball team got exactly what they needed when they beat the Crawford County Lady Eagles 5-1 on Tuesday.

The Lady Dogs are still looking for the Region 7-A public championship thanks to the four-point victory.

“I told the girls we can’t look behind today,” said GMC head coach Jennifer Deason. “This game was the most important game. If we don’t win this one, Friday’s game doesn’t mean much to us because we’re already behind 8-ball. I am proud of these girls. They took care of business and didn’t look to the future.

More on those implications from Friday later, but first, junior pitcher Leah Jannakos was masterful in the pitching circle against Crawford. The right-hander on the hard-throw held his own for all seven innings, striking out eight Eagle batters while walking just two and allowing just two hits. The only run scored against her was not earned as it occurred due to an error in the first inning.

Bailey Carreker’s two-out triple helped the visitors climb onto the board in this opening frame. Lady Eagle’s next hitter passed a slow-running shortstopper who slipped under the glove of GMC Prep sophomore shortstop Nickole Rudolph. The blunder allowed Carreker to score, but Rudolph would more than make up for the early foul later in the game.

The Lady Dogs responded in the bottom of the third as senior Kyra Dobler walked a two-goal walk to tie the score at 1-1. It was the first of three consecutive innings where the home side touched home plate as Coach Deason’s daughters got back on their feet with two strikeouts in the fourth. Sophomore Ashlyn Alford stepped in with runners in the first and third row and sent a soft shot into the triangle between the pitcher, second and first. The ball had enough spin to make a golfer jealous as it hit the ground and retreated to the first base line. Alford lifted off the ground and beat the sneaky pitch to the sack, hitting the Lady Dogs’ second inning in the process. Rookie Hannah Garner then stepped in and collected one of her two hits on the evening via a left-hand drive. This brought in his senior teammate Mallory Watts, bringing the score to 3-1 GMC in four innings.

Jannakos rounded a two-out single and left a Crawford runner stranded second in the fifth. The Lady Dogs took full control in their next round as Dobler started with a single. She would hit home two hitters later when Rudolph pitched a homer to left center field. The two-round bombshell put the finishing touches on a fantastic must-have performance from GMC Prep.

“We’re finally here,” Deason said. “This group has talent. We have strong defense and great pitching in the circle. We have the ability to be explosive in the batting box. Once we come to life at full blast, I think we’ll be where I expect us to be. We can play with anyone.

The victory sets up an even bigger game later this week against ACE. The two region leaders will face off at Couch Field on Friday in a rainy makeup from last week. If ACE wins, the Lady Gryphons are the region’s champions for a second consecutive year, barring any setbacks by the end of the regular season. If GMC wins, there will be a match 3 win-win for the region title next week. Again, that’s barring unexpected upheavals.

ACE won the first meeting against GMC Prep 4-1 in Macon.

“We hurt ourselves by not being disciplined at home plate,” Deason said of that previous game. “We’ve been working on this, so hopefully we’ll take that into the game with us when we play again.

The GMC Prep-ACE game will be played Friday at 6 p.m. at Couch Field.

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