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Upset Special

Lafayette stuns Madison County to win district softball championship

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Murray

Hannah Murray blasted a home run in the fourth inning to help the Lafayette High softball team win its 14th straight district title. 

MADISON, Fla. — Hannah Murray picked a good time to hit her first home run of the season.

The Lafayette High junior homered in the fourth inning of Thursday’s district championship game and provided the only run of the night to help the Hornets pull off a 1-0 upset win against Madison County.  

“I was thinking I just had to get a hit for my team … and I got a hit,” said Murray. “It was amazing.”

Even after winning 13 straight district championships, Lafayette was a clear underdog to Madison County heading into Thursday. The Hornets lost twice to MCHS in the regular season and were outscored 18-2. And the Cowgirls entered the tournament on an eight-game winning streak. 

But pitcher Richelle McDonald had a big say in getting Lafayette its 14th straight district crown. She pitched a complete game and allowed just four hits.

Working up and down in the strike zone, which included a lot of swings and misses on high fastballs, McDonald shut down a strong Madison County lineup. She also mixed speeds to strike out eight hitters.    

“That was probably one of my best performances. Most of my pitches were on,” said McDonald, a junior who has now won four district titles at LHS. “It’s an honor being part of this team. Having that title for 14 years is a big deal. This is probably one of the best wins because everyone thought we were the underdogs in this game.”

McDonald outdueled Madison County (20-5) ace Reese Rutherford, who was also pretty dominant with 10 strikeouts. Rutherford allowed just four hits. McKenzie Winburn, Charlie James and Alexis Koch notched singles for the Hornets.

Koch made some important plays in left field to help preserve the shutout, including a running catch to end the fourth inning. She raced to her right and hauled down a hard line drive off the bat of Hope Underhill that could have easily gone for an extra-base hit. 

Lafayette (11-12) also made all the routine plays to keep Madison County off the scoreboard. MCHS just missed out on a few home runs early in the game with center fielder Maddi Koon and right fielder Jenna Nall making catches near the fence. 

It was a memorable night for the Hornets and coach Derek Garland. 

“From where we started the season and some of the early struggles, this ranks right up there with the 2012 state championship,” said Garland, who has coached the LHS softball team during different stints for a total of 10 years. “It’s been a fun group that hasn’t given up.”

Lafayette will host Williston on Thursday, May 9, in a regional playoff game.

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Mike Jones is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press in North Florida.

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