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West Hall advances to state softball tourney
West Hall’s Bailey Soucie is out at first base after West Forsyth’s Melissa Kennedy catches the ball during the Region 7-AAA softball tournament Wednesday at Yahoola Creek Sports Complex in Dahlonega. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Today’s games

At Lanier Point Park

No. 1 seed Creekview vs. No. 3 seed West Hall, 4:30 p.m.

No. 4 seed White County vs. No. 5 seed Lumpkin County, 4:30 p.m.

DAHLONEGA — For the sixth straight year, the West Hall softball team is going to the Class AAA state playoffs.

The Spartans overcame a nine-strikeout, four-hit performance by West Forsyth freshman pitcher Kallie Martin en route to a 1-0 win Wednesday night at Yahoola Creek Softball Complex in Dahlonega.

With the win, West Hall moves on to play the region’s No. 1-seed Creekview Grizzlies in the tournament semifinals at 4:30 today at Lanier Point Park in Gainesville.

West Forsyth went on to lose to White County 5-2 in Wednesday’s night cap, eliminating the Wolverines from the region tournament and ending their season.

“(Going back to state) feels great, “ said West Hall softball coach Warren Sellers, who has taken the Spartans to state seven of the last nine seasons. “Coming into this season we had more question marks than we’ve had since our first year playing fast-pitch softball.

“But our seniors stepped up and led and our young girls grew up and that was fun to watch.”

West Hall’s Emily Hammond, Morgan Strickland, Kristen Bryant and Victoria Tuttle were the only Spartans with hits on the day — they each had one hit — but it was Haley Haynes who provided the Spartans lone run.

After Bailey Soucie reached on an error in the top of the sixth and Strickland moved her to second with a single, Haynes stepped to the plate and hit a pop fly to right that was misplayed by the Wolverines right fielder resulting in an error and Soucie scoring from second.

“I told the girls as the game went on that we were playing for one run,” Sellers said. “(West Forsyth’s) pitcher was on, but even when we did get opportunities to get some runs, we couldn’t seem to do anything with it.

“Pitching and defense was the name of the game tonight.”

And that wasn’t more evident than in the bottom of the sixth with West Hall up by only a run and the top of the order coming up for the Wolverines. Hammond started it off with a backhanded stop and throw for an out and Spartans pitcher Miranda Miller finished it, sitting down the 11th and 12th straight Wolverines’ batters.

Miller picked up the shutout win in the circle, allowing only two hits and finishing with two strikeouts and a walk.

In other action from the Region 7-AAA Tournament on Wednesday, Flowery Branch ended North Hall’s season with a 1-0 win, only to fall to Lumpkin County 2-1 in its second game of the night, ending the Falcons season.

Meagan Albini, Allison Thornton and Rachel Duden led the way for the Falcons against North Hall with a hit apiece. Flowery Branch’s lone run in its win came in the fourth when Chandler Duckworth scored on Duden’s lone hit.

North Hall was led by Megan Rogers and Danielle Newbern, who were each 1-for-3 from the plate.

Lumpkin County lost its first game Wednesday 4-3 to Creekview, but with its win against Flowery Branch, not only made the Region 7-AAA semifinals where it will face White County, but also solidified a berth in the Class AAA state playoffs.

Frankie Walls, Courtney Dyer, Kelsie Smith, Sara Abercrombie, Katie Copeland and Shannon Northdorft each had hits for the Indians in their 2-1 win against the Falcons, with Northdorft and Abercrombie accounting for the two runs scored. Smith also had an RBI for Lumpkin County, which faces the Warriors at 4:30 p.m. today at Lanier Point Park in Gainesville.

Copeland went the distance for the Indians, striking out six while walking just one and allowing only one run on six hits.
Caitlin Fowler led the way for Flowery Branch in its season-ending loss going 3-for-3 with a single, triple and a home run.

Creekview, West Hall, White County and Lumpkin County not only continue play today in the region tournament, but are also the four state qualifiers from Region 7-AAA .

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