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Karianna Back releases a pitch in the first inning of the Lady Comets' first round regional tournament game. (Photo by Krystal Williams)

The Lady Comets softball team couldn’t compete with the heat. It wasn’t just the weather. The Rowan County Lady Vikings brought warm bats to the first round of last week’s 16 region tournament to defeat the Lady Comets, 10-1.

The Lady Vikings did not hesitate to get a jump on their opponent. They scored five runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning.

“Anytime you start the regional tournament with five in the first inning, you are off to a great start. That start gives you some cushion. You feel really good about everything. Your pitching usually gets better, your defense gets better, and when you score runs hitting, you feel better. It’s just easier to play,” said Rowan County Coach Larry Slone.

Haven Ford sparked the fire by drawing a walk as lead-off then stealing second and third. She scored the first run when Emily Hammonds ground out to shortstop, Ragan Adkins.

Macy Jones stepped up to bat as the Lady Vikings’ three hole. She hit a triple and advanced home on error by the second baseman.

Jones had a stellar performance in Saturday afternoon’s game. She was three-for-four at the plate hitting a pair of triples all while holding the Lady Comets to four hits and one run from the circle.

“Rowan County did a good job of changing speeds up against us. We had been in the batting cages yesterday looking at high fifties and they came out with something a bit softer than we were expecting. But I felt like we adjusted okay. We didn’t strike out so much as we ground out. Seeing the bat on the ball is encouraging,” said West Carter Coach Christopher Shelton.

Lexi Morris followed up Jones’ triple another with triple and scored on a passed ball. Emily Hacker, Bailey Trent and Erin Wilburn strung together singles for two more runs before the end of the inning.

Jones’ second triple was part of a three-run fourth inning. The Lady Vikings strung together another five hits starting with a single by Ford.

Elaina Ward drove in Ford with a line drive to centerfield for an RBI doubled. Ward was then in place to score when Jones tripled. Ward was three-for-four at the plate with a double and a pair of singles.

The Lady Vikings scored runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings. Haley Middleton scored in the third inning when Trent singled on a hard ground ball to center field and Morris scored in the sixth when Ward singled on a line drive to left field.

Karianna Back highlighted the Lady Comets’ offense. She scored the only run for the Lady Comets in the fourth inning. She doubled on a fly ball to centerfield to start the inning and was drove in by Kallie Burchett’s fly ball single to right field.

Shelton was pleased with the Lady Comets first appearance back at the regional tournament. They fell short last season in the first round of the District tournament to Elliott County. It was the first time in eleven years, since 2006, that the Lady Comets had not played in the regional tournament.

“Stepping into a big game like this, especially being off a year. It was good. It was a step forward for our program and I think we are heading in the right direction. Rowan County just came out more ready to play,” said Shelton.

Shelton is excited to have most of the team returning next season to build on this year’s momentum “They really showed that they have started to have some experience towards the end of the season where we put some wins together uncharacteristically. We started to be the team that we are supposed to be. I hope it transfers over into next year,” said Shelton.

The Lady Comets ended the season winning nine of their last 12 games. The ended at .500 for the season with a record of 12-12.

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