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West Hall softball advances
Lady Spartans primed for fourth straight trip to North Sectionals
1008softball3 RW
Lumpkin County's pitcher delivers for the Indians during their Region 7-AAA tournament win over Flowery Branch Tuesday afternoon at Lanier Point Park.

GAINESVILLE - For the fourth year in a row, the Lady Spartans are headed to the Class AAA state playoffs.

After beating East Hall 5-0 in its first game of the day, West Hall managed a 1-0 victory against Lumpkin County in the second round of the Region 7-AAA Tournament on Tuesday at the Lanier Point Softball Complex.

"We always set that as a goal," said West Hall coach Warren Sellers regarding making it to state. "We talk about it at the first practice of the year. Our goal is to get to the state tournament and everything we do is focused toward this week and, so far, we've been fortunate and played well this time of year."

The win also advanced the Lady Spartans in the region tournament where they will face Class AAA's No. 3-ranked Creekview at 6 p.m. tonight.

Creekview moved into the state playoffs, advanced in the region tournament and maintained its undefeated record against region competition with a 14-1 win over Gainesville and a 4-0 win over ninth-ranked White County.

The only time during the regular season that West Hall and Creekview met, the Lady Grizzlies won 1-0 on an Emily Hammond wild pitch.

"The last time it was a pitcher's battle and I lost," Hammond said. "I want it this time and hope I pitch (today) like I did (Tuesday)."

"We know what it's going to take to beat them," Sellers said, "and it's going to be a near-perfect effort.

"It's going to be tight."

West Hall's matchup with Lumpkin County was a defensive duel.

With both starting pitchers, West Hall's Hammond and Lumpkin County's Katie Copeland, only amassing two strikeouts each, the teams defenses were tested often.

"They (the defense) do everything," Hammond said. "I know they're there backing me up. I don't have to worry about anything because I know they'll make the play."

The Lady Spartans' only run came in the bottom of the fifth when freshman Miranda Miller doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kiley Kirkland and scored on a wild pitch.

Over the course of the final two innings, Hammond and the Lady Spartans defense allowed only two Lumpkin County hits to preserve the win.

West Hall was able to hammer out six hits against Lumpkin County by six different batters. The Lady Indians only managed two hits against West Hall coming off the bats of Frankie Walls and Megan Thompson.

"We always try to play our best this week of the season," Sellers said. "We played really well today and I was proud of the girls.

"Good defense, super pitching and timely hitting, that's the recipe for winning."

In other games Tuesday, West Forsyth lost to White County in the two team's first games of the day 9-1 and then turned around and rallied to beat Gainesville 11-3.

The Lady Wolverines will take on Lumpkin County at 4:30 p.m. today with the winner earning a berth in the state tournament.

Lumpkin County, despite ending the day in the loser's bracket, beat Flowery Branch 5-4 in eight innings in the team's first game of the day.

With the score tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, the Lady Falcons scored once in the top of the eighth and Lumpkin County scored twice in the bottom of the inning to get the win.

Flowery Branch, however, stayed alive in the tournament by beating East Hall 7-3 in the nightcap and will take on White County at 4:30 p.m. today with a chance to go to the state tournament on the line.

East Hall's and Gainesville's seasons concluded Tuesday.



Regional events