Ask any softball coach in Region 7-AAA and they’ll say that Creekview is the team to beat, and then the remaining three state playoff spots are up for grabs.
If Day 1 of the Region 7-AAA tournament is any indication, all three top seeds are poised for a playoff berth, while the fourth will be contested between four different teams.
Top-seeded Creekview, No. 2 seed West Forsyth and third-seed West Hall all rolled to opening-round wins Tuesday at Lanier Point Park, with the seventh-ranked Lady Grizzlies putting up the most dominant performance, an 8-0 win over Gilmer.
Creekview (21-7) advances to play fifth-seeded Lumpkin County (15-9), which rallied for a run in the seventh and then scored three runs in the top of the eighth to beat White County 9-7 and send the fourth-seeded Lady Warriors to the loser’s bracket.
The big hits in the eighth came off the bats of Frankie Walls and Courtney Dyer, who knocked in two runs to give the Lady Indians a three-run lead.
Lumpkin County’s Katie Copeland shut the door on a White County comeback by getting two outs with two runners on in the bottom of the eighth. Copeland finished with eight strikeouts.
White County was led by Laura Sangster (1-for-4), Aubrey Gstalder (1-for-4 with a two-run home run) and Morgan Jacobson, who hit a triple and scored two runs.
The Lady Warriors (15-7) play Gilmer at 4:30 p.m. today at the Yahoola Creek Sports Complex in Dahlonega, which will host today’s games after rain prevented the use of two of the four fields at Lanier Point Park.
Two of the top three seeds meet in the other game of the winner’s bracket, with West Forsyth (14-8) playing West Hall (19-10) at 4:30 p.m. today.
The Lady Wolverines easily dispatched North Hall (11-13-1) on Tuesday, thanks largely to the pitching performance of Kallie Martin, who struck out 12 batters and surrendered one hit in the 6-0 win.
“The first game of the tournament is the most important one,” West Forsyth coach Byron Orr said. “Now, we’re just gonna take it one game at a time.”
The Lady Trojans, whose lone hit came via a double from Amber Youngblood in the top of the sixth, will play Flowery Branch at 4:30 p.m. today.
“The good thing is we could have been eliminated,” said North Hall coach Bruce King, whose team beat Lambert 4-0 in the play-in game. “We have to put this to bed very quickly and hopefully we got the bad stuff out.”
West Hall need not worry about any bad things, as the Lady Spartans cruised to a 5-1 win over Flowery Branch (13-12-1).
After surrendering a first-inning run on an RBI single from Flowery Branch’s Caitlin Orr, the Lady Spartans’ starter Emily Hammond shut down Flowery Branch to the tune of one hit over the final six innings.
“Emily pitched great,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “She gave up that run in the first, but I’m proud of the way she settled down and how we responded.”
Sophomore Miranda Miller led that response with a two-run double in the bottom of the first. Miller added to the Lady Spartans’ lead in the third by hitting a run-scoring single that scored Madison Strickland and then coming around to score on a throwing error.
West Hall’s Bailey Soucie emphatically sealed the win with a solo home run in the fifth inning.
“We played well,” Sellers said. “We got a little momentum and hopefully we can ride that through the tournament.”