With the loss, its first of the season in a region competition, Etowah (20-7-2) will be forced to travel in the first round of the state playoffs as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed of 5AAAAAA.
It was actually the Lady Eagles’ second loss of the season to Milton (15-5-2), with the first coming as part of the Cherokee County Invitational earlier in the season.
Nothing seemed to go right for Etowah, which entered the night having won 15 of its last 17 and was the favorite to advance to the region final.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Etowah coach Victoria Brown said. “We weren’t mentally prepared to play. We weren’t here.”
A few close calls determined the outcome, and they all fell in Milton’s favor. Even Etowah’s own field seemed to turn against it.
Entering the top of the sixth inning, with the game tied at 1-all, a double by Milton’s Jema Bravo and a single by Olivia Harris put runners on first and third with only one out.
After Etowah pitcher Bridgette Flaherty struck out opposing pitcher Cate Gibson, Kristina Brown hit a groundball up the middle.
On a normal day, that would have been an easy out, but due to the amount of rain from the day before, the ball rolled much slower than usual, giving Kristina Brown an extra second to beat out the throw to first and drive Bravo home.
In the bottom of the sixth, Etowah’s Maddie Jenkins and Allie Brown reach on an error and a walk with one out.
After a deep fly ball from Torrie Garner, which was just a few feet short of being a home run, advanced the runners to second and third, Courtney Atkinson hit a line drive toward second base.
It appeared as if the ball had been trapped in the dirt, but Atkinson was called out to end the inning.
Though Etowah was able to put two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh, it was unable to score and was handed the loss.
The Lady Eagles’ coach felt the loss was the result of a lack of focus.
“We weren’t intense. We didn’t have the right mentality,” Victoria Brown said. “We need to focus from the beginning of the game. We need to work and perform from the beginning.”
When Brown was asked why she felt the team had lost its focus, she didn’t have an answer.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t have an answer to that. If I did, the score wouldn’t have been what it was.”
Getting the win for Milton was Gibson, who gave up one run off of two hits with four strikeouts.
Flaherty was given the loss, giving up seven hits and two runs.
Etowah’s only run was scored in the first inning when Allie Brown hit a double to drive in Jenkins.
Later this week, Etowah will play the loser of today’s Cherokee-Lassiter game to determine the region’s third and fourth seeds for the state playoffs. The teams were scheduled to play Tuesday, but field conditions forced a postponement of play.