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Survive and Advance: Morgan County Lady Dog Softball Team Outlasts Pierce County to Earn Trip to Columbus

It took three games over two days, but the Morgan County Lady Dog softball team defeated the Pierce County Bears to extend their season to the state championship tournament this week in Columbus.

The series got off to a tough start for Morgan County, as the Lady Dogs dropped game one 7-6.  Pierce County took control of the contest in the third inning by scoring the game’s first run.  The Bears would add two runs in each of the next three innings to take a commanding 7-0 lead heading into the seventh inning.

Prior to its final at bat, the Lady Dogs had only mustered one hit in the contest.  This all changed in the final frame.  Morgan County stormed back with five hits that helped six runs to cross the plate.  Pierce Country was able to end the comeback with the tying run on second base to preserve the one run victory.  However, the rally was enough to shift the momentum in favor of Morgan County.

Game two saw Morgan and Pierce go scoreless for the first two innings.  This all changed in the third.  Pierce County, serving as the visitor for game two, erupted for four runs in the top half of the inning.  As they have all season, the Lady Dogs answered the call. Alisha Ellis and Alissa Webb had back to back singles followed by a three run blast over the left center field fence off the bat Elizabeth Couch.

Pitcher Ansley Dean and the Lady Dog defense retired the Bears in order in the fourth.  Morgan County’s Sydney Walker led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit and eventually scored on a Pierce error to even the game at four.

Pierce County would regain the lead with a solo home run in the fifth inning.  The 5-4 lead held up for the Bears until the bottom of the sixth.  Sydney Walker was again the catalyst for the Morgan offense, as the senior outfielder singled with one out.  Walker moved to second base on a ground out by Mary Trent Chandler.  With two outs in the inning and four outs from possible elimination, senior catcher Leah Malcom stepped to the plate and delivered a game tying single up the middle to even the score at five.

Both teams went scoreless in the seventh to set up extra innings.  The Bears picked up a run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly to take a 6-5 advantage.  Per the international tiebreaker rule, Elizabeth Couch, who made the last out of the seventh inning, began the eighth at second base for Morgan County.  Ansley Dean reached on an error that eventually led to both baserunners moving into scoring position.  With the stage set for a dramatic finish, first baseman Madison Henry delivered a moment that will be remembered for years to come.  The sophomore drove a low and away pitch over the right center field fence for a three run, walk-off homer that propelled Morgan County to an 8-6 win.

The split of Wednesday’s doubleheader set up a decisive game three, with the winner earning a trip to the state championship tournament.  Morgan County won the coin toss and elected to be the home team.  Lady Dog hurler Ansley Dean, who worked every inning of the series in the circle, came out razor sharp.  Dean and the Morgan County defense held the potent Pierce offense scoreless through the first four innings.

While the Pierce offense struggled to generate runs, Morgan drew first blood by striking for a lone run in the second.   The Lady Dogs picked up two more runs in the third when pitcher Ansley Dean helped her own cause with a two run single to extend the lead to 3-0.

Pierce County pulled within a run in the fifth inning with a two out, two run homer.  The momentum shift did not last long, as the 3-2 margin would be as close as the Bears would get on the evening. Morgan notched three runs in the fifth inning.  Alissa Webb, Liz Couch, and Sydney Walker each had RBI hits in the inning.  Morgan County kept the barrage going into the sixth inning. Using a variety of offensive tactics, the Lady Dogs plated four runs in the frame for a 10-2 run-rule victory.

With a record of 25-10 on the season, Morgan County will now travel to Columbus to take part in the AAA state championship tournament.  The tournament features an eight team, double elimination format.  Morgan County opens play on Thursday afternoon at 4:00 versus Southeast Bulloch.  The tournament will continue through the weekend with the championship game scheduled for Saturday at 3:00.  Brackets and scores will be updated on the Morgan County athletic webpage, www.mocoathletics.com, as well as www.ghsa.net.

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Zaxby’s Student-Athletes of the Week – Week 6

Middle School Boys – James Martin, 8th Grade, Football

According to Coach Aaron Paul, it was a difficult task to highlight just one player from the team’s dominating performance against Monticello on October 5th.  The offensive line performed very well throughout the game by continuously opening holes that led to over 300 yards rushing.  The coaching staff especially noted center James Martin for his work not just in this one game but for the Bulldogs entire season to date. Coach Paul commented, “James does a great job at center in our no huddle offense.  He is extremely consistent with his snaps out of our shotgun formation, which is not common at the middle school level.  James allows us to vary our offensive looks to make it difficult on opposing defenses.”

Middle School Girls – Emma Silvey, 8th Grade, Volleyball

Emma Silvey is new to Morgan County Middle School this year, but her impact on the MCMS volleyball team was immediate this season.  The middle school volleyball team, in only its second year of existence, completed its season on October 1st with a third place finish in the league tournament.  Silvey was key to the team’s success throughout the day and season.  In game one versus George Walton Academy, Silvey served up seven aces.  “Emma has played consistently throughout the season and has showed great dedication to the team and game of volleyball,” noted Coach Angela Stapleton.

High School Boys – Anderson Wells, Junior, Football

As a team, the Morgan County Bulldogs put together a complete performance in the 42-6 triumph over East Jackson on September 30th.  A microcosm of team’s overall body of work on the night was the play of the offensive line.  The unit has shown continuous improvement this season, which can be highlighted by the play of junior guard Anderson Wells.  According to Coach Bill Malone, Anderson blocked well the entire night against East Jackson.  Coach Malone added this about his junior guard, “Anderson works hard and can always be counted on to do the right thing whether it’s on or off the field. I’m proud of the improvements he has made this season.”

High School Girls – Gracie Burge, Sophomore, Volleyball

Sophomore Gracie Burge has been one of the keys to the Spike Dogs successful 2016 season.  Burge is a setter for the MCHS Volleyball team, which is a position that requires a player to make quick judgments about how to direct the ball.  In the Spike Dogs area championship clinching victory over East Jackson on September 27th, Burge did her job extremely well.  “Gracie’s decision making was critical in the East Jackson match, as she was key to scoring crucial points down the stretch in each set,” stated Coach Greg Thompson.  Thompson added, “Gracie had several good runs with the serve to get us out of holes.  She stepped up not only in the East Jackson match but has been there the entire season.”

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Week 5 Zaxby’s Student-Athletes of the Week

Zaxby’s Student-Athlete-of-the-Week

Week 5:  9/19-9/24

Middle School Girls – Brianna Lanford, 6th Grade, Softball

Sixth grader Brianna Lanford is proving that the future is bright for the Morgan County softball program.  In three games for the week of 9/19-9/24, Lanford batted .500 and had an on base percentage of .667.  The first baseman/utility player played flawless defense for the week as well.  Coach Kemp Crawford added, “Brianna has worked extremely hard all season and put in a lot of hours outside practice.  I’m really proud of her dedication.”  The MCMS Lady Dogs finished the season in fourth place in the Piedmont Athletic Conference, which was a significant accomplishment for a team laden with young players.

Middle School Boys – Jacob Martin, 7th Grade, Cross Country

Time management might be a challenge for most of us in today’s world. However, Cross country athlete Jacob Martin, who participates in multiple extracurricular activities, is demonstrating that juggling multiple tasks can not only be done – but done well.  At the Georgia Mile Split Challenge hosted by North Oconee, Martin posted a time 14:03, which was good for an eight place overall finish out of 87 runners.  Martin led the MCMS boys to a fifth place finish in the meet.  Coach Sarah Robertson commented, “Jacob works extremely hard at practices.  He gives 100% in everything he does.  I am very proud of him for juggling all of his activities and keeping his grades up.”

High School Girls – Alisha Ellis, SR, Softball

According to coach Jason McBay, senior left fielder Alisha Ellis “hates to lose as much as I do.” Alisha’s competitive nature is evident each time she takes the field.  In region wins over Monroe Area (9/20) and Jackson County (9/22), Alisha did her fair share to lead the Lady Dogs to victory and a third consecutive region regular season championship.  In two games, Alisha was 4-7 at the plate with five RBIs.  She also stole four bases in four attempts and scored four runs.  She was outstanding in left field, where she picked up an assist by throwing a runner out at third base during the Jackson County game.

High School Boys – MJ Webb, SR, Football

Much has already been written about the 2016 Morgan County defense – especially the defensive line.  However, there is no denying the defensive  front’s impact in the Bulldogs 14-0 win over Lamar County on 9/23.  The unit’s bookend defensive end, MJ Webb, put on a noteworthy performance earning him this week’s award.  Webb had seven tackles on the evening and gave the Bulldog front consistent push into the opponent’s backfield.  Webb added four other tackles for loss and contributed several Quarterback pressures. Overall, Webb and the Morgan County defense limited the Trojans to just 49 total yards in the contest.

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Morgan County Volleyball Claims First Area Championship in Program History

The stakes were at an all-time high for the Morgan County Volleyball team’s trip to East Jackson on Tuesday night.  With East Jackson and Morgan County tied atop the area standings heading into the match, the Spike Dogs walked away with the program’s first ever area championship after defeating the home standing Eagles two sets to one.

Set number one saw Morgan County start fast and race out to a 14-7 lead.  However, that lead would be erased over the course of the remainder of the set as East Jackson went on an 18-4 run to take a 25-18 come-from-behind victory.

With the momentum and home crowd clearly in favor of East Jackson, Morgan County responded to adversity and answered the challenge.  The second set was a back and forth affair from the get go.  East Jackson extended its lead to 22-18, which was the largest deficit either team would face in the set. With their backs against the wall, the Spike Dogs rallied for four straight points to knot the score at 22.  The teams would exchange points down the stretch and once again find themselves even at 25.  East Jackson scored next and was within one point of seizing the set and 2016 area championship.  However, Morgan County found itself on top after scoring three straight points to take a 28-26 victory to set up a decisive third set.

The Spike Dogs jumped out to a sizable 11-6 advantage early in the set. East Jackson continued to make plays and closed the Morgan County lead to just three at 15-12. Morgan County’s lead would diminish to two at 20-18, and the visitors eventually found themselves tied at 22-22. With the momentum pendulum swinging back to the side of East Jackson, the Spike Dogs regrouped to score the final three points of the set making the final score 25-22.

The 2-1 victory secured Morgan County’s first ever area championship in the program’s eleven year history.  Head coach Greg Thompson stated, “This was one of the most intense volleyball matches I have been a part of.  I was so proud of our girls and how they stayed in the match after a very disappointing first set.”  Thompson added, “It would have been very easy to fold, but we kept fighting and made plays at the right times. It was a great night for our girls and our volleyball program. I am so happy for our seniors. It was a great experience for our younger players who now know what it takes to be able to perform at your best when it matters most.”

The Morgan County Spike Dogs will close out the regular season by participating in a tournament at Monroe Area on Saturday followed by the regular season finale at Athens Academy on Tuesday.  The Spike Dogs have secured the number one seed from area eight heading into the GHSA state playoffs.  Morgan County will host round one of the state playoffs the second week of October with the match time and opponent to be determined next week.

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Softball Seniors Shine in Home Finale – Morgan Prepares to Host Region Tournament

The Morgan County Lady Dogs varsity softball team closed out the regular season in style on Tuesday with a 12-0 victory over the visiting Hart County Bulldogs.  The seven Lady Dog softball seniors, who picked up win number 99 for their high school careers, led the way in the team’s near flawless performance.

Hart County, who entered the game red hot, saw their one and only scoring opportunity squashed in the first inning by senior pitcher Ansley Dean and the Morgan defense.  Morgan County quickly jumped on top in the home half of the first when Sarah Couch led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a base hit by fellow senior Alisha Ellis.

The two teams went scoreless in the second, which proved to be the calm before Morgan’s offensive storm.  In the third inning, Sarah Couch was again the catalyst for the Lady Dog offense.  The senior center fielder got things going by reaching base on an error and advancing to second on an errant Hart County throw. After moving to third on an infield hit by Alissa Webb, Couch was able to score on a well-executed first and third offensive play.  Later in the inning, with two outs and runners on second and third, Ansley Dean helped her own cause by delivering a two run single that extended Morgan’s lead to 4-0.

The offensive onslaught continued in Morgan’s half of the fourth inning when the Lady Dogs picked up eight runs to bring the final score to 12-0 per GHSA run-rule.  The Lady Dogs executed several small ball tactics including a slash hit single by senior Bryanna Mims.  Alisha Ellis and senior third baseman Elizabeth Couch picked up RBIs in the inning.  Two more runs scored in an unlikely manner when Ansley Dean executed a push bunt past the Hart County infield.  Finally, the game ended with a walk off single by senior catcher Leah Malcom that drove in the 11th and 12th runs.

Dean was sharp in the circle for the Lady Dogs only giving up two hits.  The Morgan County defense made all of the plays behind their pitcher en route to the four inning shutout.

The Lady Dogs closed out the regular season with 18-7 overall mark and 9-1 record in region 8-AAA play.  Morgan County has earned the right to host the final four, double-elimination portion of the region tournament scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 4.  Morgan County enters the tournament as the number one seed and will play a to be determined region opponent on Tuesday at 12:00.  For a complete tournament bracket, log onto www.mocoathletics.com/softball.

 

 

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Week 4 Zaxby’s Morgan County Student-Athletes of the Week

Zaxby’s Student-Athlete-of-the-Week

Week 4:  9/12-9/17

 

Middle School Girls – Karlie Lane, 8th Grade, Softball

Shortstop Karlie Lane assembled an impressive resume in the MCMS softball team’s two games for the week of September 12th.  The Lady Bulldogs went 1-1 on the week with a victory over Putnam County and a loss to Monticello.  Lane made no errors at the key defensive position while also taking part in a double play, which is rare at the middle school level.  Her batting average for the week was .500 with an on base percentage of .750.  Needless to say, Karlie was an offensive catalyst for the Lady Dogs.

Middle School Boys – Noah Brown, 8th Grade, Football

According to the middle school football roster, Noah Brown is a Wide Receiver/Linebacker.  However, the title of utility man may better describe Brown’s various contributions to the middle school’s 31-26 win over Loganville on September 14th .  Brown found the endzone as a tailback and ran the football hard throughout the contest.  From a defensive standpoint, number 12 had six tackles and a game changing interception.  To top that off, Brown kicked an extra point and had “excellent kickoffs for the entire game” according to Head Coach Aaron Paul.  Coach Paul added, “Noah is the type of player that must be on the field at all times.  His ability to play defense and make tackles along with his offensive skills are matched by few players in our league.”

High School Girls – Mary Zimmerman, SR, Volleyball

The Morgan County Spike Dogs have a dominating presence in the middle of the floor in senior Mary Zimmerman.  Zimmerman has helped the MCHS varsity volleyball team to a 6-2 record for the weeks of September 5th and September 12th.  Over that period, Zimmerman recorded 23 kills and 12 blocks.  Coach Greg Thompson stated, “Mary is a team leader and always gives her best effort on the floor.  She is very competitive and works hard in practice to be the best player she can be.”  Zimmerman and her teammates currently sit in a first place tie with East Jackson in the area standings heading into the home stretch.

High School Boys – Keandre Williams, SR, Football

In watching the Morgan County varsity football team compete this season, it is evident that one of the team strengths is its outstanding defensive line.  This talented group of young men is anchored in part by #51 Keandre Williams.  In the Bulldogs 35-14 win over Putnam County on September 16th, Williams took down seven Putnam ball carriers and added three assists.  Two of his tackles brought War Eagle runners down behind the line of scrimmage.  Williams is the model of a true student athlete.  Keandre boasts a 4.0 GPA and has his sights set on attending school at Georgia Tech, NC State, or Duke.  Coach Bill Malone summed Keandre up by stating, “awesome young man.”

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Week 2 Zaxby’s Student-Athlete-of-the-Week Winners

Zaxby’s Student-Athlete-of-the-Week

Week 2:  8/29-9/3

 

Middle School Girls – Anna Cox, 8th Grade, Volleyball

In the only match of the week for the MCMS volleyball team, eighth grader Anna Cox led her team on the court with outstanding play from her setter position.  Coach Angela Stapleton particularly noted Anna’s outstanding serves during the Prince Avenue match, which resulted in five aces.  Anna also had two kills on the afternoon and exhibited great on-court leadership.

 

 

Middle School Boys – Kobridgette Lumpkin, 8th Grade, Football

Although the MCMS football team is still in the early stages of its season, fans are becoming accustomed to seeing number 15 Kobridgette Lumpkin shred opponent defenses. The eighth grader led the Bulldogs to a 52-24 victory over Green County on Wednesday, August 31.  Kobridgette scored three touchdowns on the afternoon and gained well over 100 yards.

 

 

High School Girls – Sarah Couch, SR, Softball

One of senior centerfielder Sarah Couch’s most important offensives tasks is to be a catalyst for the Lady Dogs softball team.  In the team’s region wins over Monroe Area and Jackson County last week, Sarah did just that.  Sarah reached first base five of seven times that she went to the plate in the two games including three singles and two walks.  Couch was just getting started when she reached base, as she went on to steal five bases in five attempts and eventually scored four runs.

 

 

High School Boys – Quin Williams, JR, Football

To say that Quin Williams had a monster of a game in the Bulldogs 23-13 win over North Oconee on September 2nd would be an understatement.  The junior defensive end/linebacker had seven tackles on the evening including two in which he brought down Titan ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage. Williams assault on the North Oconee offense did not stop there, as he added two pass break ups and five quarterback pressures.  When Quin was not in the opponent’s backfield, he was found on the offensive side of the ball for the Bulldogs.  Williams added to an already eventful night by scoring on a 36 yard run.  Perhaps most important of all was Quin’s unselfish blocking throughout the night as noted by head coach Bill Malone.

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MCHS Boys, Girls Take First Place at Rick Boulis Invitational

While Morgan County parents, coaches and volunteers welcomed guests and opposing athletes to Bill Wood Park yesterday for the Rick Boulis Cross Country Invitational, the Bulldog runners were not nearly as hospitable as the MCHS Boys and Girls Cross Country teams both took home first place finishes in the varsity competitions. The event marked the first home competition of the season for the Morgan County Cross Country program and officially opened a new portion of the course that greatly adds to the competitive aspect of the layout.

Dalton Shaw took home first place in the boys competition with a time 18:21. Shaw was followed closely by his junior teammate, Alex Rountree, who finished second overall with a time 18:27. Rounding out the top five finishers for the Bulldogs were Kevin Berisko, Jordan Hilsman, and Frankie Hayes. Four of the top 15 finishers in the race were representatives of Morgan County High School, which helped the team to earn the lowest total score for the event. As in golf, lower point totals equate to better overall finishes by the team. Morgan County scored a total of 46 points, which earned a first place finish by one point over GMC Prep. Grovetown High School finished a distant third place.

The MCHS girls also saw four team members earn medals with sophomore Brooke Randall finishing just outside the top 15 with a 16th place overall. Senior Jessie Pagett led was the top finisher for the Lady Dog runners with a time of 23:44, which was good for fourth place overall. Sophomore Anna Hart finished sixth with a time of 25:25. Emily Dickson and Carolina Zant rounded out the top five for the Lady Dogs by claiming the 11th and 14th place spots, respectively. The Morgan County girls took the top spot out of seven teams. Morgan County totaled 51 points, which gave the Lady Dogs a seven point advantage over Grovetown.

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Dean, Shaw Named Week 1 Zaxby’s Student-Athletes-of-the Week

Senior softball player Ansley Dean and Senior cross country runner Dalton Shaw have been named Zaxby’s Student-Athlete-of-the-Week for their performances the week of August 22nd.

Dean, in her second year as a mainstay in the pitching circle for the Lady Dogs, led the Morgan County varsity softball team to three wins for the week of August 22-August 27, which included a shutout of region rival and previously unbeaten East Jackson. Following a loss to Franklin County, Dean gave up only ten hits in 16 1/3 innings of work. Dean also contributed heavily at the plate by going 6 for 9 with three doubles. Head softball coach Jason McBay was especially pleased with how his senior pitcher responded after a tough outing earlier in the week versus Franklin County.

Senior cross country athlete Dalton Shaw was selected as the athletic program’s first male recipient of the award after an impressive start to his final season at the LCA Invitational meet on Saturday, August 20th. Shaw placed fourth overall out of a field of 103 male runners with a time of 18:37. Head Coach Erin Spinks states that Dalton trains outside of practice time as well as scheduled practices and pushes other teams members to improve their individual performances.

Morgan County Charter School System Athletics is proud to join with Zaxby’s of Madison to honor a male and female student-athlete each week for their performances on and off the athletic field.