COLUMBUS, Ga. — Northwest Georgia teams went 7-0 on elimination Friday at the GHSA Softball Championships, the four teams doing it in different ways. As a result, each still has a shot at a state title.
While Ringgold and Gordon Lee had to win a combined five games, Dade County and Northwest Whitfield needed just one game to reach today's Class AA and AAAA championship games. Don't take that to mean it was easy, though.
Northwest's Lady Bruins (34-3) had to overcome a late West Laurens rally to win, 3-2. Dade's Lady Wolverines (21-13), the surprise team in Class AA, rallied from a two-run deficit to clip Wesleyan by the same score.
"We've been doing it this way all season, and it's never easy," Northwest coach Jason Brooker said. "We knew they could swing the bats well and that they didn't strike out much, and that was true. We had some chances to put it away, but give them credit for making it tough."
Trailing 3-0, West Lauren got a two-run homer from Faith Flanders off Emily Boyd in the fifth inning and had a runner on third in the sixth before the senior shut the door with a groundout. She retired the side in order in the seventh.
In Dade's exciting win, Wesleyan took a 2-0 lead into the fifth before the Lady Wolverines scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game. In the seventh, after Dade ace Madison Gossett struck out the last of her 16 batters to end the top half, Carri Pierce led off with a single, only the team's third hit of the game off two Lady Wolves pitchers.
Sydney Vaughan then sacrificed, the ball spinning in front of the plate as first baseman Dacia Jones picked it up and threw wildly to first. Vaughan sped to third as the center fielder chased down the errant throw, and when the ball was not thrown in with any urgency, Pierce took off for home and scored the winning run just under the tag.
"Carri has been aggressive on the bases since day one, and that's won us so many ballgames, just like that," Dade co-coach Christine Core said. "These girls want this so badly, and once they scored those first two runs, the momentum just took off."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...