The Lady Greyhounds advanced into today’s Class AAAAA winners bracket championship after beating Greenbrier 7-1 in the first round and topping Loganville 1-0 in eight innings in the semifinals Thursday at the South Commons Softball Complex.
Pope (28-5) will face top-ranked Union Grove (29-6-2) at 7 p.m. tonight in the winners’ bracket championship. The winner of that game will then play for the state title Saturday
With the score tied at 1-all against Loganville (25-11) after seven innings, Pope’s Sydney Segers was placed on second in the top of the eighth due to the international tiebreaker rule. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Kelly Barnhill’s sacrifice bunt.
In the bottom half of the frame, Loganville’s Caitlin McBee was placed on second, but she failed to advance after Barnhill induced a foul out and struck out the next two batters to preserve the victory. Barnhill completed the game giving up two hits and four walks while striking out 15.
“That was nuts,” Pope coach Chris Turco said. “It’s our first time in Columbus, and these girls are just coming out and getting timely at-bats, playing great defense, and we’re getting great pitching from Barnhill. They’re doing what they said they were going to do, and what they’ve been doing all year.”
The game almost didn’t make into extra innings.
Loganville’s Lauren Beshel reached first on an error to begin the bottom of the sixth and moved to second on a wild pitch. She reached third on a forceout at first, but she was called out at home when second baseman Laura Miller fielded a groundball and threw to catcher Laura Beall to preserve the scoreless tie.
“The defense stepped it up in the sixth,” Turco said. “Laura Miller made the play of the game with that out at home. Without her, I think we go home losers in the seventh.”
Pope managed only one hit in the game — a single from Barnhill in the fifth — off Loganville’s Samantha Britt.
The Lady Greyhounds’ first-round game against Greenbrier (29-7) wasn’t nearly as close.
In the first inning, Lauren Palace was on base as the courtesy runner for Beall, who hit a two-out double, and Megan Metzinger’s single plated Palace for a 1-0 Pope lead.
The Lady Wolf Pack answered in the third to knot the score at 1-all, but the tie was short-lived as Pope plated four runs in the bottom half of the frame, in which the Lady Greyhounds sent nine batters to the plate in the inning.
Metzinger’s double scored Jenna Reilly and Ellie Viland for a 3-1 advantage. Quentin Stanton’s RBI groundout plated Palace — who was again running for Beall — and Barnhill’s two-out single scored Metzinger for a 5-1 lead.
Two more runs came across in the sixth when Ellyn Strother scored off an error in the sixth and Viland’s sacrifice bunt plated Miller, resulting in the 7-1 final.
Metzinger batted 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Beall was 2-for-4. Pope pounded out 10 hits against Greenbrier starter Kirsten Titus, who gave up seven runs — three earned — and struck out two.
Barnhill allowed one earned run off three hits and struck out 16 to get the victory.
Lassiter 8, East Coweta 0 (5 inn.): The Lady Trojans sent 13 batters to the plate in the fifth inning and scored five runs to invoke the run rule in their first-round Class AAAAAA state finals game.
Carli Kayler batted 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, while Mackenzie Kayler was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Elise Sandberg batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and Sammi Green went 3-for-3 with two RBIs.
Lassiter (32-5-1) totaled 12 hits and took an early 3-0 lead after scoring three runs in the third.
The Lady Trojans will face Archer (30-7) in the second round today at 9 a.m.
Collins Hill 3, Harrison 2: Down their final at-bats in the top of the seventh, the Lady Hoyas managed to get runners on first and second with one out, but a line drive out set up a double play to end the comeback bid in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state finals.
Three-time defending champion Collins Hill (26-8) plated two runs in the second and one in the fourth to stake a 3-0 lead.
Kaci Giles and Kelli Carroll recorded back-to-back two out singles in sixth, and Sierra Maddox’s two-run double trimmed the deficit to one heading into the seventh.
Harrison (22-12) will take on Due West rival Kennesaw Mountain (29-4-2) in a losers’ bracket game today at 11 a.m.
Mill Creek 6, Kennesaw Mountain 3: Mill Creek just seems to have Kennesaw Mountain’s number at the state finals.
After falling to the Lady Hawks in a losers’ bracket game at last year’s elite eight, the Lady Mustangs allowed Mill Creek’s Kenzer Fagioli a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to put the Lady Hawks in front 3-2. They added three more run in the sixth off two hits and two errors to take the win in the first-round Class AAAAAA game.
Malea Bell hit a home run off the first pitch she saw to give Kennesaw Mountain a 1-0 first-inning lead. Amanda Hallman’s one-out double two batters later scored Kimmie Strebe for 2-0 Lady Mustangs advantage.
Kennesaw Mountain pitcher Bekah Farris was in a groove up until the fifth when she hit the leadoff batter and gave up a double on the next at-bat. After a strikeout, Fagioli hit the three-run homer over the left-field fence to give Mill Creek the lead it didn’t relinquish.
Bell, who batted 2-for-4 with two runs scored, hit another home run in the seventh, resulting in the final score.
Madi Lewis was 2-for-2 for Kennesaw Mountain, while Farris gave up six runs — four earned — on six hits and struck out six in the loss.
Archer 8, Hillgrove 2: Archer scored three runs in the first and one more in the second to take a 4-0 lead and went to beat the Lady Hawks in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state finals.
Hillgrove scored its two runs with two outs in the third.
Brittany Ferrell reached on an error and Rachel Jarvis walked. Abby Akins then belted a two-run double to plate Ferrell and Jarvis and trim the deficit to 4-2.
However, the Lady Tigers extended the lead with a run in fourth and three more in the fifth for the final margin.
Akins batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Hillgrove offense. Ferrell and Qiley Lewis also had hits.
Hillgrove (28-10) will play East Coweta (31-4-1) in a losers’ bracket game today at 11 a.m.
Whitewater 4, Allatoona 1: Whitewater jumped out in front of the Lady Buccaneers with four runs in the first inning of their first-round Class AAAAA state finals game to earn the win.
Allatoona (26-10) committed three errors in the inning, which allowed the Lady Wildcats, who also produced three hits in the inning, the early advantage.
Bailey Crawford scored Allatoona’s only run in the first. She led off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball and stole third. She scored on Jessica Finch’s RBI groundout.
Crawford batted 2-for-4, while Erika Dunbar was also 2-for-4. Finch was 1-for-3 with a walk, Casey Lewis and Elisabeth Federici each batted 1-for-3.
Allatoona will take on Region 5AAAAA rival South Paulding in a losers’ bracket game today at 11 a.m.