RINGGOLD, Ga. -- If Tuesday's Ringgold-Heritage game was scheduled to give each respected team a look at what playoff softball will look like, that goal was achieved.
Ringgold's 4-3 win in eight innings was played with playoff intensity between the Catoosa County nonregion rivals, and the message that it's time to find another level was made clear. The Lady Tigers (22-5) rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings, then used a defensive break and a Heritage error to win in eight.
"That was a battle," Ringgold coach Rachel Hodge said. "I don't think either one of us played our best game, but that's what we're going to see from here on out. This is a great game for us to schedule before the region tournament. Heritage is an outstanding program. They're going to contend for a state title and we want to also, and to do that we have to play at their level. I challenged our girls to dominate in October, so they knew what they had to do tonight."
Ringgold took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning in a fast-paced game with starting pitchers Katie Cain and Heritage's Lauren Lawson throwing strikes. The Generals (21-6) rallied after Lawson opened with a single and scored when Katie Pritchett's grounder was misplayed. Two batters later, Brooklynn Frazier doubled in the go-ahead run.
The Lady Tigers came right back when senior Devan Brown singled in Nicole Cross with two outs, setting up extra innings. Heritage was in good shape to score in the top of the eighth with a runner on third and hot-hitting Olivia Tamewitz at bat. Then Ringgold reliever Abbey McKinney's first pitch went to the backstop, but catcher Aimee Davidson pounced on it and threw courtesy runner Sydney Smith out at the plate.
In the bottom half, with runners on second and first and one out, Davidson hit a grounder to short. After a forceout at second the ball was thrown away at first, allowing Brown to score just ahead of the tag at home.
"This is a rival thing and you don't lose to your rivals," the beaming Brown said. "It's nice to beat them twice since it's our senior year; it makes it easier to go back to school. It's a really good rivalry and it sets the tone for your season when you play them, because they're a very good team. We didn't give up after they scored on us, so this is a great way to go into the postseason."
Freshman starter Cain allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings for Ringgold, while Lawson allowed only one earned run in going the distance for Heritage.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...