The No. 3-seeded West Hall High softball team extended its winning streak to nine games with a 5-2 win against North Hall in the second round of the Region 7-AAA Tournament on Wednesday at the Lanier Point Softball Complex.
With the win, West Hall (19-10) receives its fourth consecutive bid into the Class AAA North Sectionals. West Hall advances to play Lumpkin County at 6:30 p.m. today in the third round.
"We were able to beat a good North Hall team today," West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. "We all feel like the pressure’s off now since we qualified for the state tournament."
West Hall held on to the win after surviving a late North Hall rally.
With the bases loaded and no outs, North Hall (15-13-2) junior first basemen Anna Bower lifted a fly ball to West Hall center fielder Hannah Jarrells. Jarrells secured the ball in her glove, then quickly gunned the ball to home plate, throwing out North Hall’s lead runner from third base.
West Hall sophomore pitcher Emily Hammond then got the next Lady Trojans hitter to fly out, ending any hope for a last gasp North Hall rally.
Jarrells led the Lady Spartans with a 2-for-3 night at the plate, including an RBI and a run scored.
"I knew we needed someone to make a big play with the bases loaded," Jarrells said. "It was a routine play that I work on at practice every day.
"We all have to remain focused for our game (today) against Lumpkin County."
Hammond earned the complete game victory for West Hall, striking out one and surrendering a walk. She also allowed six singles.
"(Emily) really stepped up tonight," Sellers said. "We talked about it last week and I told her that the scenario would be for her to pitch two games, whether we won or lost. I asked her if she was ready and she assured me she was.
"She’s not big in stature, but she has a big heart."
With the game knotted at 1-1 and West Hall runners on second and third base, junior Kiley Kirkland bunted and reached on a North Hall throwing error that allowed Kristen Bryant to score from third. West Hall extended its lead to 3-1 when Kirkland scored on Madison Strickland’s RBI single.
Bower led North Hall with a 2-for-3 night at the plate, including an RBI single in the fifth inning.
"We knew West Hall was a good team coming into the game," North Hall coach Roger Fannon said. "They have speed, they can hit the ball and they play great defense.
"I knew it’d be a great game."
Hannah Stevens scored the Lady Trojans’ lone run in the first inning on a Chelsea Clever hit that West Hall’s infielder failed to field cleanly.
North Hall plays White County at 4:30 p.m. today. The winner receives an automatic bid into the state tournament.
Spartans win opener over West Forsyth
Emily Hammond came out on top in a pitchers duel as West Hall avoided an upset, beating No. 6 West Forsyth 1-0 in the opening round of the Region 7-AAA softball tournament at Lanier Point Softball Complex Wednesday.
"Both pitchers were really on top of their game," Sellers said. "West Forsyth got some base hits and our defense really saved us tonight."
Hammond went the distance for West Hall, scattering four hits in the win. Rachel Kirby pitched a complete game for the Lady Wolverines, surrendering five hits and notching seven strikeouts.
The game’s only run came in the bottom of the fifth inning, and it was Hammond who scored it. The pitcher led off the frame with a triple and later came home on a single from Kiley Kirkland. What appeared to be a second West Hall score by Kirkland was overturned on an interference call, after a long conference involving West Forsyth coach Byron Orr and the umpires.
"It proved to be enough," Sellers said. "We had a great effort defensively."
The game ended with West Forsyth working for a rally, as Haley Holder struck out with runners at the corners.
Lyndsey Thomas had two hits in the game for West Hall. Nikki Erdely hit safely twice for West Forsyth.
B.J. Corbitt from the Forsyth County News helped contribute to this report.