Last year, Woodland and East Paulding met in a thrilling Region 7-AAAAA opener. The visiting Raiders rallied from a three-run deficit in the top of the seventh for a 10-8 victory.
This time around, the Wildcats got to play the spoilers. Woodland scored runs in each of the last three innings to rally for a 6-3 win in its season opener Monday at East Paulding.
With the score tied 3-all entering the seventh, the Wildcats loaded the bases with nobody out, as Morgan Bailey and Hannah Miller singled around an Ansley Evans walk. Kendyl Hardin coaxed a walk to break the deadlock before Morgan Cooper was hit by a pitch to force in another run.
Alyssa Motes had an RBI groundout later in the frame to hand Woodland a 6-3 lead entering the bottom of the inning.
Lainey Baker worked around a one-out single to finish off the Raiders. She struck out six with no walks, while allowing seven hits in a complete-game effort.
East Paulding (2-3, 0-1) took the lead on Maggie O'Kelley's solo homer in the second inning. A clutch two-out, two-run single in the third put Woodland in a 3-0 hole.
The Wildcats, who only had three hits on the night, started to make a comeback in the top of the fifth. Kailey Baker walked, Bella Carnes reached on an error, and then the two pulled off a double steal. That was a key play, as both players ended up scoring on Evans' sacrifice fly to pull Woodland within 3-2.
The Wildcats tied the game in the sixth, when Motes doubled home Cooper. Woodland left the go-ahead run at third base that inning, but the team didn't have to wait long to make up for it.
After opening the season with a thrilling come-from-behind win, the Wildcats will host Carrollton in a rematch of last year's region championship series, which Woodland won in three games. Junior Madi Bentley, who went 3-0 against the Trojans last year, will be expected to start for the Wildcats.
-- courtesy The Daily Tribune News