Lone Grove wins 1-0 thriller on Senior Night
LONE GROVE — For Lone Grove coach Jimmy Miller, things probably couldn't have gone more appropriately in Monday's 1-0 win over Dickson.
On Senior Night for the Longhorns, Miller's senior pitcher, Jeanea Mitchell, was almost flawless in the circle, throwing nine innings of shutout ball while allowing just one hit, striking out seven and issuing no walks. And in the bottom of the ninth inning, it was his senior rightfielder, Kallie McNeely, who scored the game-winning run on a sharp ground ball by senior catcher Nacona Presgrove.
"It worked out pretty appropriate," Miller said. "That group of seniors we have, I'm very proud of them.
"They put in a lot of extra hours in the cage, on the field, and doing what it takes to improve and compete. They're great models for the younger girls and leave some big shoes to fill."
In a ceremony after the game in which the six seniors and their families were honored with flowers and a special monologue from each, it was clear that the emotions of the event overwhelmed several of the young women, including Presgrove, who had difficulty holding back tears.
"All the work this group has done, from the beginning of the season to now, it was all worth it just to be with these girls," Presgrove said. "I couldn't have asked for a better group of teammates than what I've had here."
The game was once again spectacular theater between the Comets and Longhorns. In their previous contest, Lone Grove pulled out a 12-10 win in eight innings at Dickson, highlighted by a four-run seventh inning comeback by the home team before Lone Grove put the game away in the eighth.
This game, however, went the opposite route, as Mitchell and Dickson pitcher Peyton Stanley matched each other stride for stride through eight innings. Neither team scored a run or even had a runner reach third base until the ninth frame, and the two squads combined for just seven hits in the game.
"Both pitchers were on point today," Dickson coach David Gardner said. "We just needed to find a way to scratch out a run and couldn't do it."
Though Dickson couldn't make it onto the scoreboard, freshman Madison Rozzell very nearly won the game for the Comets with one swing.
In the top of the seventh inning, Rozzell crushed Mitchell's first pitch of the at-bat deep down the left field line, at least 250 feet. The ball traveled just outside the pole, but it was close enough that the exhale from the Lone Grove crowd was palpable.
"I thought we could sneak that pitch by here, but I was wrong," Miller said. "I'm just lucky the wind blew it foul."
In district tournament play, Lone Grove (21-11) will host Pauls Valley Thursday, while Dickson (14-18) travels to Ada.