GAINESVILLE — The Region 7-AAA softball champions wasted no time making their case for a trip to the state softball finals in Columbus.
The Lady Indians had a 7-1 win over Chamblee, the No. 5 seed out of Region 5, and a 7-4 win over Sandy Creek, the No. 3 seed out of Region 6, in their first two games of the Class AAA North Sectional. They stay in the winners’ bracket for today’s game against Blessed Trinity, the No. 2 seed out of Region 5, at 2 p.m. at Lanier Point Park in Gainesville.
"Basically we just came here playing ourselves," said Lumpkin County coach Lorrie Hall. "We didn’t care who we were playing. We wanted to get base runners on, bunt them over and get them in and we did that tonight."
In its first game, Lumpkin County scored in every inning but the second. They struck first in the first inning on a slow roller to third base by Morgan Chapman; Jade Butler scored on the hit.
Chamblee tied it up in the bottom of the inning when Allie Jest scored from third base on a wild pitch by Lady Indians’ pitcher Bridget Savage with the bases loaded.
Despite struggling through the first, Savage got the complete game win and struck out 10 batters while only walking two.
"We had two goals and that was to win two games today and we did both of those," Savage said.
The score wasn’t tied for long, however. After an uneventful second inning, Lumpkin County scored at least one run in each of the final five innings. While the Lady Indians bats were hot, the defense had ice water running through its veins.
In the bottom of the fifth with the score 4-1 Lumpkin, Chamblee was threatening after a triple by Allie Jest with one out, but the Lady Indians’ double play ended the inning. Chamblee’s Amy Oltman grounded to Lady Indians’ second baseman Emily Gaddis, who threw to first for one out. Lumpkin County first baseman Chelsey Edelberg threw home for a tagout on Jest who was attempting to score.
It was the last time Chamblee showed any glimmer of offensive prowess.
Lumpkin County continued its strong defense and scoring ways right up until the end of the game, scoring two in the top of the last inning to seal the win.
The Lady Indians were led in the first game by Gaddis, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and Chapman, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
In its nightcap, a 7-4 win over Sandy Creek, Lumpkin County got strong pitching from starter Butler, who had three strikeouts on the night. Butler also hit the ball well, Despite taking a little longer to get warmed up than she did in first game.
The score was 1-1 until the top of the sixth when the Lady Indians exploded for six runs sparked by Megan Cantrell’s two RBI triple.
"It was overall a good game," Butler said. "The team played good defense, we were good at the plate. Both games were just overall smart games and we played like a team."
Lumpkin County also was led at the plate by freshman Frankie Walls, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI and Gaddis, who had another impressive game at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.
Sandy Creek didn’t score until the bottom of the last inning and, once Butler was taken out for Game 1 winner Savage, wasn’t a threat at all.
With the score 7-4, Savage came in with one out and got out the final two batters, striking out the last, to help her team to another win.
"I think anybody we face we are just going to go over them and move to the next game," Butler said.
West Hall 8, Riverwood 5
The Lady Spartans scored three runs in the top of the first inning and overcame a late deficit to beat Riverwood in their opening game of the Class AAA North Sectional on Friday night at Lanier Point Park.
"We got a big lead, we got down, the girls didn’t panic and we came in, got some runs and got the win," said West Hall coach Warren Sellers.
Junior Alex Wright started the first-inning scoring spree with a base hit that scored leadoff hitter Hannah Jarrells.
Jarrells finished the game 3-for-4 with three base hits.
Riverwood threatened to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the third after Christina Jones’ walked, stole second and moved to third on a fielders choice. But West Hall shortstop Bailey Soucie ended the threat when she caught Lyndsey McKeone’s pop up and threw Jones out at home for the third out.
The Lady Spartans defense wavered at several points during the game, allowing runs due to poor fielding but making game-saving plays when needed.
"Our defense wasn’t as tight as it has been lately," Sellers said. "I think we’ll shore that up tomorrow. These girls are resilient, we’ve come back from behind a lot this year and won’t give up until it’s over."
The one constant in the game against Riverwood was West Hall’s bats. Facing a one-run deficit in the top of the sixth, the Lady Spartans tied the game on a double by Emily Hammond which scored Soucie, who reached after getting hit by a pitch.
West Hall never relinquished the lead after taking it back in the sixth inning.
"(Our focus for tomorrow) is just to survive and advance," Sellers said. "I know it’s an old cliche, but it doesn’t have to be pretty, we just have to have one more run than the other team."
Oconee County 7, West Hall 0
In their second game of the day, the Lady Spartans could never quite get going and fell to Region 8-AAA champion Oconee County.
"We’re not hanging our heads losing to Oconee, they are probably the best team here," Sellers said. "We have been able to bounce back all year."
Oconee County’s pitcher, Alana Thomas, threw a no-hitter in her complete-game win. She also struck out 11 batters while walking only three.
"It’s tough to hit that girl," Sellers said. "She’s tough."
West Hall moves into the losers’ bracket to face the winner of the Apalachee/Chamblee game at 10 a.m. today at Lanier Point Park.
Westminster 6, White County 5
White County moved into the losers’ bracket with its loss to Westminster and will face Hart County at 10 a.m. today at Lanier Point Park.