The White County softball team is starting to remind coach Beth Kimsey of last season’s Class AAA state championship squad after two wins Wednesday night.
"That’s the breakthrough that I was looking for," said Kimsey, an assistant under former coach John Brown. "Our bats finally came around.
"That makes me excited for the rest of the season."
Senior third baseman Morgan Jacobson hit a home run in each game as the Lady Warriors battered North Hall 5-1 and East Hall 13-1 Wednesday at North Hall to take the top spot in Pool 1 of the North Fall Classic.
White County (10-5, 4-3 8-AAA) will play next in the gold bracket Saturday at North Georgia College & State University.
Scoring 18 runs in just nine total innings is a good sign for a team that powered their way to the title last season.
"If we stay focused and keep hitting like we’re hitting," Jacobson said. "We can do it again."
The Lady Warriors opened the North Fall Classic Wednesday afternoon with a 5-1 win over hosts North Hall, their second win over the Lady Trojans (8-13, 2-6) in 24 hours after Tuesday’s 3-0 win in Cleveland. It was the only region meeting of the two schools in 8-AAA play.
On Wednesday, it was starting pitcher Madison Turner (1-1), who allowed just one unearned run in a five-inning, complete-game outing for her first win of the season. Turner struck out two, walked four and allowed four hits. The southpaw worked around base runners and a pair of errors in the decision.
"She had some struggles early in the season, but she said she wanted to pitch today and we let her," Kimsey said. "She did a great job tonight."
Jacobson slammed a two-run home run in the top of the first inning and first baseman Callie McDonald drove in two runs on a one-out single to left field in the fourth inning.
North Hall freshman pitcher Hannah Meeler also dealt with loaded base paths all night, allowing three earned runs in the complete-game outing.
The Lady Trojans defense allowed two errors, a step back after playing error free in the Tuesday loss to White County.
"We struggled on defense," said North Hall coach Brooke Russell. "Last night we played perfect defensively, I hope we can build on that."
The Lady Warriors first two runs were well earned.
Catcher Kristen Mullis walked on four pitches to lead off the first, then Jacobsen launched a pitch over the fence to the right of straightaway center field.
North Hall was well positioned to strike back in the bottom of the inning, with runners on second and third with one out. But Lady Trojans first baseman Melissa Adams, who would record one of her squad’s four hits later in the game, ground out to White County shortstop Heather Herdliska who looked back the runner at third before throwing to first for the out. McDonald then fired to second base to catch the runner diving back to complete the double play.
North Hall made it a one-run game in the second, taking advantage of a two-base error by the White County infield, to plate a run.
White County turned around and took advantage of a couple of North Hall miscues in the fourth. With the bases loaded after an error, a walk and a single, McDonald lined a single to left field to drive in two runs. The White County first baseman advanced to second and a third run scored when an outfielder misplayed a line-drive single.
While it wasn’t the start they had hoped for, North Hall and coach Russell are still happy to be hosting the tournament.
"It can be a turnaround point for many teams," said Russell, in her first year as the North Hall head coach. "It’s a good opportunity for the players to learn some new things and get better for the second half."
WHITE COUNTY 13, EAST HALL 1: White County slugged its way by East Hall (9-11-1, 2-3 8-AA) in four innings Wednesday night, avenging a 3-2 loss to the Lady Vikings early in the season.
McDonald (8-4) allowed just one run in the complete-game win.
Jacobson started the scoring with a home run in the first and finished it with a two-run single to left in the fourth to end the game on mercy rule.
McDonald helped her cause with three RBIs on two hits, and Lindsey Whitmire drove in three runs with a single and a double.
East Hall right fielder Marissa Thompson drove in the Lady Vikings lone run with a double in the second.
NORTH HALL 6, EAST HALL 2: Lady Trojans pitcher Courtney Gearin threw a four-inning complete game for the win in the final game of the night at North Hall.
North Hall finished 1-1 in pool play, and East Hall was 0-2. Both teams will wait until after Friday’s pool play to determine where and when they will play again Saturday in the medal round.
Third baseman Harper Seymour paced the Lady Trojans offense with a three-run triple down the left field line in the first inning, and Carlie Delong added an RBI double.
East Hall starter Harlee Grogan took the loss and was relieved after 1 1/3 innings by right-hander Keri Jones, who escaped a bases loaded jam and allowed just one unearned run the rest of the way.
Kali Turner had an RBI triple and Ericka Lopez drove in a second run for East Hall in the bottom of the fourth. The Lady Vikings loaded the bases with two outs, but Gearin struck out Abby Black to seal the win.