The 2012 season was such an impressive run for the Macon-East softball team. Riding the strong arm of pitcher Bailey Singleton, the Knights stormed through the competition on the way to the AISA Class AAA state championship.
The Knights (48-10) repeated as champs on Saturday, but it was anything but easy. Often, they found themselves in unexpected struggles. Such was the case at Lagoon Park in the championship game when a Macon-East team that had scored eight or more runs in each of its first three games, including an 8-0 win over Kingwood, found itself trailing Kingwood 2-1 in the fourth inning.
“We’ve won a lot of games in the last inning,” Macon-East coach Glynn Lott said. “We didn’t win a lot by the 10-run rule, we kind of played to the competition, just enough to win. On Friday (against Bessemer and Springwood), both teams had a lead on us and we had to come back in both games.”
Those games turned into routs. The championship game didn’t. Macon-East needed a heads-up play in the sixth inning to break a tie and give them a 3-2 victory for their second straight championship. Devin Kennedy struck out but Kingwood catcher Carolina Clark couldn’t hold on to the ball. As Kennedy ran toward first base, it forced Clark to throw to first baseman Taelar Holland for the force out, allowing Abby Adams to sprint home from third with the game-winning run.
Kennedy did the rest in the circle, holding Kingwood at bay to earn most valuable player honors.
“We were living off the last game, where we had beaten them,” Kennedy said.
Lott didn’t have to think twice about choosing a tournament most valuable player. While he had several candidates, Kennedy was stepping into uncharted waters as a sophomore, accepting the burden of being the top pitcher after Singleton had suffered a foot injury midway through the season.
“To come out and do what she’s done all year, at the plate and (in the circle), she’s a competitor,” Lott said. “She came out and pitched four games in a row (in the state tournament). Bailey did it last year. It’s nice to have two 10th-graders who will be juniors next year who were both MVPs of the state tournament.
“At the beginning of the year, both of them pitched games. When Bailey got hurt, we did that with (Kennedy and) Paxton (Searle) pitching a little. I think (Kennedy) only lost three games all year. She did a good job considering she didn’t pitch until this year.”
The second trip through the state tournament was a little tougher, Kennedy said, even though it ended with the same reward.
“It was very hard,” she said. “We started out thinking we could live off of last year, and it turned out the total opposite because we got everybody’s best game. Everybody wanted to beat us and was looking for revenge against us. ” “Coach Lott told us we had to quit living off of last year. And we picked it up and won.”