Right now, West Hall is feeling a bit of deja vu.
A passed ball allowed Creekview to beat the Lady Spartans in the regular season, and a passed ball allowed the game-winning run to score in their 2-1 loss to the Lady Grizzlies on Thursday in the semifinals of the Region 7-AAA softball tournament at Lanier Point Park.
“Both teams had a couple of chances along the way,” Creekview coach Mike Nayman said. “Ultimately it depends on who was gonna get that hit that dropped, where’s the ball gonna kick by a catcher, and who’s gonna kick a ball in the field. That’s where the runs are gonna come from when it’s this type of game.”
After failing to capitalize on a few West Hall (21-10) miscues, the third-ranked Lady Grizzlies (28-6) finally broke through in the third inning.
Lauren Jeffreys started the inning with a single, advancing to second on a Ashley Jeffreys’ single two batters later. With runners on first and second, Kate Gorczyca singled off the outstretched glove of West Hall shortstop Morgan Strickland to score the game’s first run. On the next pitch, a pitch got by West Hall’s catcher allowing Ashley Jeffreys to score.
With two runs on the board, Gorczyca continued to shut down West Hall’s offense.
The senior right hander struck out 10 batters and allowed just three hits and one walk in seven innings in the circle. The one walk was Gorczyca’s second base on balls given up in region play all season.
“Tonight was like any other night she pitches,” Nayman said. “I’ll take her in any game and like our chances.”
West Hall tried to get the runs back in the fourth inning, but the Lady Spartans left Alex Wright on first base after she led off with a single to right field.
The Lady Spartans stranded a total of five runners on base.
“We just couldn’t get that big hit,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “You gotta tip your hat to them, they are a good team.”
With her team struggling at the plate, West Hall pitcher Emily Hammond kept the score close. She allowed just one hit over the final three innings, and ended the night with three strikeouts and two walks.
Hammond’s effectiveness in the circle made Creekview change its offensive philosophy.
Normally a free-swinging ball club that’s batting .370 as a team, the Lady Grizzlies used small ball to advance to the region championship game.
“They’re willing to bunt, but I don’t think they like to bunt,” Nayman said of his players. “But you know what? The goal is to get one more run then the other team, and our team is gonna do what we have to do. And if that means small ball, then it’s small ball.”
With the win, Creekview — in its first year in Region 7-AAA — advances to the championship game which will be played at 3:30 p.m. today at Lanier Point.
West Hall still has a chance at the region title, but the Lady Spartans must first get by White County. The Lady Warriors advanced by beating Lumpkin County 5-3 on a two-run double by Lindsay Messmore in the top of the seventh inning.The White County/West Hall game is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at Lanier Point.