Millington's Madelyn Clifton is tagged out at first base by the Bartlett Lady Panther first baseman during last week's game in Miles Park. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Last-second change: Millington scores 3 in 7th to steal opening day win from Bartlett

Millington’s Madelyn Clifton is tagged out at first base by the Bartlett Lady Panther first baseman during last week’s game in Miles Park. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

A change in plans moved the 2019 debut for the Millington Lady Trojans and Bartlett Lady Panthers to the moist turf of Miles Park.

The home of the Lady Trojans was dry enough to field the contest between the former District 14-3A rivals. The current District 14-3A team Bartlett jumped ahead 2-0.

Then the District 15-2A Lady Trojans changed the attire once more. The apparent Lady Panther victory was erased for a Millington 3-2 comeback win.

“I tell my kids every day, ‘You’re going to face adversity,’” Millington Head Coach Whitney Horton said. “‘You’ve got to take it one game at time, one pitch at a time.’ I can’t express how proud I am of these young ladies fighting back from 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh.

“And they played for each other,” she continued. “I told them, ‘Do it for each other, not for me. Do it for you and your team.’ I can’t express how happy I am to get a big win against a great team to start off the 2019 season with a bang.”

Bartlett started off with a bang, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Lady Panthers added some insurance in the top of the sixth inning with another RBI single.

The Lady Trojans faced a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning with Ann Howard stepping to the plate.

“I saw she got it started, and all it takes is one person to get it started,” Lady Trojan senior Hannah Clifton said. “And then everybody else feeds off of them.”

Howard’s single was followed by a Racheal Ballard hit, leading to a two-base error. The table was set for Lady Trojan pitcher Kaitlyn McDonald.

The sophomore’s clutch double had everybody loving it wearing black and gold. McDonald drove in Howard and Ballard to deadlock the game at 2-2.

After the next two Millington batters moved the runner over to third base, Clifton stepped to the plate with a chance to win the game but facing two outs.

Clifton his a dribbler into play, sending the Bartlett defense into a frenzy.

“I was like, ‘Crap, I’m going to be out,’” Clifton acknowledged. “I didn’t think I would make it to first. I didn’t think I made it in time. But I turned around and everybody was cheering.”

Clifton made it in time and courtesy runner Allix Gordon crossed home plate with the winning run against the 3A foe.

“Every year I want to face teams that are in the 3A division because it’s only going to make us better with the Covingtons and Ripleys we have in our division,” Horton noted. “We have to be prepared, and I feel like getting prepared is playing the Colliervilles, the Bartletts, the Arlingtons and the Munfords. Every day if we can build each and every day when it comes to conference play, we should be a force to be reckoned with.”

Horton said she was proud of the effort for her entire team, including McDonald’s pitching.

“We can’t win ball games if we don’t make routine plays,” she said. “The defense that showed up for Millington tonight is the defense I knew we had in us. I was very proud of how each and every one of them did their job.

“Everybody was where they needed to be,” Horton added. “And all it takes is one swing to get things doing. After Ann started us off with that single, I knew something good was about to happen. I am so excited for them. They did it. I didn’t do it. It’s them that has the talent. I am just very proud to be able to coach kids like that.”

Clifton said the 2019 Lady Trojans are a special group and have the right mixture to do something as special.

“We have a chance to do something really great and go far,” she concluded. “We have a really young team. Last year with so many of them being freshmen, they got their varsity experience. I think we can really do something this year.”