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Lady Tigers edge Lady Panthers in round 2

McKenzie senior Paige Odom took charge from the circle Tuesday alongside junior Kaitlyn Padgett during the Lady Tigers’ thrilling eighth-inning 13-12 victory over the Georgiana Lady Panthers.

McKenzie senior Paige Odom took charge from the circle Tuesday alongside junior Kaitlyn Padgett during the Lady Tigers’ thrilling eighth-inning 13-12 victory over the Georgiana Lady Panthers.

The McKenzie Lady Tigers softball team has had to fight tooth and claw for each win in the early stretch of the season, and that’s exactly how head softball coach Matt Coghlan wants it.

A laundry list of top-tier opponents has filled the initial weeks of McKenzie’s schedule, but Coghlan said that it’s an opportunity for growth.

“And that’s one reason why our record looks a little different this year,” Coghlan said.

“I deliberately made the schedule a little tougher, and I think it’s going to help us in the long run if we don’t get frustrated from losing a few along the way.”

Among the highs and lows of the early season are two clutch victories against a drastically improved Georgiana softball team, including a nail-biter 13-12 victory Tuesday against the Lady Panthers that went into extra innings.

Using the international tiebreaker rule, the offensive team begins the inning with the ninth hitter in the batting order placed on second base.

Though the Lady Panthers were able to score a run the eighth inning, McKenzie brought two Lady Tigers home and secured their second victory over their neighboring rivals in as many weeks.

As apparent from the smiles on the faces of coaches and players alike on both sides, Coghlan said that the rivalry between the two towns is a low-stakes opportunity to improve that’s mutually beneficial.

“I think especially this year, they’ve improved an awful lot,” Coghlan said. “I think right now, we’re dead-even, and both teams are about the same.  We’re really lucky to have come away with two wins against them.

“And it is a lot of fun, and it’s good to see.  Coach Powell has done a great job with those girls, and he’s done it the right way.  They believe they can beat people, and they’re going to beat a lot of people this year.”

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Lady Tigers next week as the team braces for a pair of battles with Pleasant Home, one of the toughest teams the Lady Tigers have faced all season.

“They’re very good.  I think right now in the polls, they’re ranked No. 6 or 7,” Coghlan said.

“We did play them in their tournament last weekend, and they beat us pretty bad.  I feel like we can compete better than we did last weekend, but we’ve got our work cut out for us.  But if we want to get better, we’ve got to play those types of teams.”

The Lady Tigers travel to Pleasant Home Tuesday, and the team will host the Lady Eagles on Thursday.