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Georgia Knockouts gain valuable tournament experience

For the Georgia Knockouts, who participated in the 8 and Under Division of last week's United States Specialty Sports Association Girls' Slo-Pitch World Series at Sweetwater Park, playing against state and nationally-ranked teams proved too much.

Even so, the Georgia Knockouts, composed of mostly All-Star softball players from the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services, seemed to enjoy themselves.

"We seemed to get a little better with each game we played," said Head Coach Mattie Cheatham, who was assisted by Sharolyn Steed and Troy Allen, who served as the pitching coach. "I think we had a lot of jitters that held us back from playing as well as we could have in the tournament. We didn't do too bad considering we're just a little recreation team and don't play any tournament ball. I was real proud of each of the players on the team. They showed a lot of courage to get out there and play against some real good teams from all over the United States."

The local team finished 0-4 in both pool play and world series tournament action.

In the last game of the world series, which was played last Saturday afternoon, the Georgia Knockouts played the Diamond Divas from Petal, Miss. The final score was 25-10.

From the start of the game, where the Diamond Divas mounted an early 8-0 lead, it meant the Thomson team having to play come-from-behind softball - an obstacle they could never overcome.

In fact, matters only got worse for the Georgia Knockouts after they failed to produce any runs in the bottom of the first inning. The team did collect a pair of hits, though, during that time from Alex Pinkston and Mariyan Cheatham.

The top of the second saw the Diamond Divas strike for nine more runs on eight more hits - thus giving themselves a 17-0 cushion after only two innings at bat.

The Georgia Knockouts, however, weren't ready to lie down and quit. Instead, they collected four runs of their own on five hits during the bottom of the second.

Garaeshia Reynolds got things started with a one-out double into left field. Diamond McGahee then drove her in with the team's first run of the game on another double in almost the same place as the first one.

Chanmique Cummings then managed to get aboard on an infield single with McGahee getting to second base. She eventually scored on a RBI double by Jalyric Rhodes. Both Cummings and Rhodes later raced home when Caleah Neal hit a slow roller that was fielded by the Diamond Divas' second baseman. The only other hit that inning came from Pinkston.

In the top of the third, the Diamond Divas blew the game wide open, collecting eight more runs to take a 25-4 lead. The Georgia Knockouts got three runs in both the third and fourth innings.

Extra base hits during those two innings came from Cummings, a double; Cheatham, a triple; and JerDasia Bradshaw, a two-run, inside-the-park homerun. In the last inning, the Thomson team also had infield singles from Neal and Hannah Allen, who played defense beside the pitcher spot.

In this particular league, each team batted 11 players or until three outs were recorded. The players were pitched to by a member of their own coaching staff. The coach was prohibited from making any defensive plays.

Web posted on Thursday, July 26, 2007

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