Categorized | Sports

Maggie to the rescue

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Maggie Johnson

Maggie Johnson

Munford Head Coach Glenn Goulder knew he could rely on her.
Even Lady Cougar starting pitcher Tara Comer had an unbreakable faith in her second baseman May 13 on the Arlington Softball Field diamond.
Despite her team knowing they could depend on her, Maggie Johnson had to once again summon her the strength in her knees to try to help her team avoid elimination and advance out the Region 7-3A Semifinal round.
And with several key defensive plays, Johnson was a big part in the Munford Lady Cougars outlasting the Arlington Lady Tigers 4-2.
“Maggie Johnson plays hurt,” Goulder noted. “A lot of people don’t know this but her knees are killing her. Right before the seventh inning and we ran out, I asked her could she go out there because she was in the back of the dugout stretching out her legs.
“She said, ‘Coach I got three more outs in me,’” he continued. “You’ve got to love that out of a player. And I love Maggie Johnson.”
Johnson recorded the final out of the game by snatching a laser out of midair. The final out ensured Munford a spot in the Regional Championship game against Hardin County in Savannah. And the Lady Cougars secured a spot in Sub-State.
The Lady Cougars appeared to be cruising to the next round jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Munford’s four-run rally started with Alex Stanford reaching on an error.
Then her teammates Alex Turner and Christina Cantrell singled to give Peyton Joyner a loaded bases situation. The freshman catcher came through with a base hit to score two runners.
Although they grabbed a 2-0 lead, Munford suffered an out at third base. Then after the Lady Tigers recorded a strike out Maddison Welch kept the inning alive with two outs.
The sophmore infielder stroked the fourth single of the inning with her hit going up the middle to score a run. Ahead 3-0, Lady Cougar Tori Ray added to the advantage with another base hit up the middle.
Ray’s hit forced a pitching change for Arlington. Lady Tiger Alexis Bonanno enduced a liner off the bat of Sam Scott to end the Munford inning.
Scott joined teammates Joyner, Welch and Ray in the infield behing Comer. The only upperclassman in the infield was Johnson.
“We had to overcome injuries,” Johnson noted. “It’s taken practice, and the underclassmen have stepped up their play. I had to be a leader out there with two sophomores on the left side and a freshman at first and behind the plate.”
In the bottom of the second Johnson’s clutch defensive skills were needed to avoid a big inning. Bonnano doubled to score a run with two outs for the Lady Tigers. Arlington was behind 4-1 with a runner on when speedster Tina Thomas came to the plate.
Thomas hit a ground ball toward second base which drew Scott off the bag, Johnson fielded the ball and sprinted toward first base to step on the bag to end the frame.
“I know Maggie Johnson has always got my back,” Comer said. “I can depend on her. I have faith in her that she’ll make the plays when I need her to make the plays.”
Johnson wasn’t done yet. In the fourth inning the Lady Tigers chipped into the Munford advantage when Bonnano drove in her second run of the night.
Once again Thomas stepped to the plate with a chance to add to the Arlington total with two runners on base. But she hit a flyout to Johnson to end that threat.
With Best of the Preps players Sami Jo Schulz and Jodie Duncan out of the lineup because of injuries, Welch and Ray took over on the left side of the infield. Joyner has been the starter behind the plate since districts. The outfield consist of junior Cantrell, freshman McKenzie Pugh and senior Alex Turner. The trio secured several outs for Comer giving Munford a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
With two Lady Tigers down, Brianna Baker crushed a double to keep her team hopes alive. But when Olivia Perez hit a rocket toward second base, Johnson grabbed the ball out of the air with two hands to secure victory for Munford.
“It feels great to advance,” Goulder said. “Our younger players really have stepped up and our seniors have tightened their belts. They all came to play today and they got the job done.”

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