By Coach Lisa Skelton
There were happy and sad tears as the Northgate Lady Vikings celebrated the senior softball class of 2022 Thursday night.
In a shortened game, the Lady Vikings waved the victory flag for the second time last week in their defeat of the LaGrange High School Lady Grangers 9-0.
The dynamic duo of senior pitchers Olivia Cato and Kyra Aycock pitched a combined shutout.
Cato started in the circle for the Vikings and went about business by striking out five in two innings with no runs.
Aycock followed and completed the shutout with four strikeouts and three hits.
Seniors Makenna Cole, Ally Manley, Khaila Upshaw, and Marissa Martin performed well in the contest to solidify the win.
Northgate scored in the first inning when Cato hit a single to score junior shortstop Hannah Smith, who had singled earlier.
However, the Lady Viking offense made their move in the third inning. They scored six runs delivered by hits from Upshaw, Manley, Smith, Cato and freshman Harmony Jackson.
Junior catcher Anna Baldwin had a double in the second inning but was left stranded on the bases. Altogether, Northgate had eight hits, with two from both Cato and Aycock. Jackson and Cato both had two RBI on the night.
The Lady Vikings closed out their regular season schedule on Friday night when they defeated the Griffin Lady Bears 11-4.
Jackie Burns pitched a complete game for the victory and went 3-for-4 at the play with three RBI. Anna Baldwin hit a home run and drove in two runs.
Senior night for any sport can bring about mixed emotions. As a freshman, it seems senior season takes so long, but it passes so quickly as a senior. This senior class helped Northgate reach the Final Four in Columbus in 2019 and the Elite Eight in 2020.
They helped stop the drought for the Lady Vikings in not making it to the Elite Eight since 2014. First-time Head Coach Carleigh Baker addressed her seniors and said it best: "Embrace the emotions you feel and leave it all on the field. By being a part of softball, your life has impacted other lives around you, and for that, you will always have a home at the Gate."
As the seniors, escorted by their families, took that final walk around their home field diamond, one theme emerged from each senior's speech: "We are not done yet, and let's make this the best!"
Northgate seniors will begin their final quest on Tuesday when they will travel to Columbus to take on first place regular season finisher Northside Columbus at 5 p.m.
The Lady Vikings have automatically qualified for the state playoffs by finishing in the top four.
Region 2-5A will be playing a double-elimination tournament for state seeding with the top four teams from the region.
The first round of state playoffs will be against the top four teams out of Region 4. Jones County was that region’s regular-season champion.
Good luck to all Coweta County High Schools as the road to Columbus begins.
Photos by Michael Clifton
Olivia Cato got the start on senior night and struck out five in two innings. Northgate Lady Viking Senior Kyra Aycock Northgate Lady Viking Senior Olivia Cato Northgate Lady Viking Senior Marissa MartinNorthgate Lady Viking Senior Makenna ColeNorthgate Lady Viking Senior Khaila UpshawNorthgate Lady Viking Senior Ally Manley