After securing their first-ever state tournament softball appearance last week by sweeping Heritage in a best-of-three series, the Flowery Branch Falcons made progress Monday night toward possibly hosting a round of the tournament and maybe even winning the Region 8-AAAAA softball tournament title.
Courtney Harris singled home Maddie Hetzel with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning Monday to give Flowery Branch a 6-5 victory over homestanding Apalachee and a split of their Region 8-AAAAA playoff doubleheader.
Apalachee, the overall No. 2 seed in the region, won the first game 12-8.
The two teams will meet again at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Lady Wildcats’ field, with the Lady Falcons having won a coin flip and choosing to be the home team.
The winner of the series will play the winner of the Winder-Barrow-Loganville series, which is also tied 1-1 after the two teams split Monday with the Lady Doggs winning the first game 3-1 and Loganville taking the second contest 4-3.
The two winners will play Thursday for the region title and the two losers will play a consolation contest.
All four teams have already qualified for the state tournament with this week’s games determining seeding for the state tournament.
Flowery Branch, which was the home team in Monday’s second game, entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-3 before singles by Callie Alexzuliam, Chloe Zoeller and Bailey Sims got one run home and Hetzel followed with a double to deep centerfield to tie the score.
Sims was thrown out at third on the play to end the inning.
Hetzel’s sacrifice fly in the first gave the Lady Falcons an early lead, and Zoeller’s RBI groundout in the third put Flowery Branch ahead 2-0.
Celena Wilson’s single drove in the Lady Wildcats’ first run in the fourth, but Flowery Branch increased its lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Jadyn Tracy led off the inning with a double and scored on a two-out throwing error.
The Lady Falcons were guilty of three errors in the sixth, allowing Apalachee to tie the game at 3-3. Then the Lady Wildcats went ahead 5-3 in the top of the seventh.
Mia Giddens circled the bases with one out when her bunt single was thrown past first for one error and the ball was then thrown into left field for another miscue.
Singles by Hannah Medlam, Savannah Clark and Mikayla Carlyle loaded the bases before Allison Cole singled home another run for Apalachee.
Kara Kight wound up as the winning pitcher for Flowery Branch in the game, while Rebecca Meade, who pitched both games for the Lady Wildcats and threw 271 pitches overall, was the losing pitcher in the contest.
Flowery Branch jumped on Meade for three runs in the first inning of the first game, two of them on Shelby Griffin’s single.
Griffin, who caught both games for the Lady Falcons, was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs in the contest.
Apalachee tied the game in its half of the second and more or less put the game away with six runs in the third off losing pitcher MacKenzie Harris.
Flowery Branch got within 9-7 on Zoeller’s two-run double in the sixth, but Logan Leverette’s two-run double keyed a three-run bottom of the sixth for Apalachee to put the game out of reach.