When region softball tournaments wrapped up Thursday night, local teams turned their attention to their respective state tournaments.
Two of those teams will play at home as long as they keep winning.
Harlem won its first-ever region championship Wednesday night, beating Screven County in a doubleheader to earn the Region 3-AA title.
The No. 1 seed Lady Bulldogs (24-6) will begin with a tough test at home, facing Region 2’s No. 4 seed, McIntosh County Academy, who enters with a 21-6 mark.
Leading the way against Screven County Wednesday was a freshman pitcher and one of the team’s smallest players who delivered one of the team’s biggest hits.
Amber Garrett (12-4) pitched a five-inning no-hitter in game one as the Lady Bulldogs won 10-0. She would pitch three more no-hit innings in game two, earning a save as the Lady Bulldogs won 4-2.
Coach Mike Leverett noted how far she has come.
“She came in as a freshman and has grown into a senior freshman,” he said laughing.
In game two, second baseman Abbie Drake hit a clutch two-run triple that tied the game at two in the fifth inning and came around to score the game-winning run on Lindsey Stokes’ double.
Greenbrier wrote its own ticket to the state finals with a 4-3 win over Jones County Thursday night, winning the Region 2-AAAAA title. In the two-day tournament, the Lady Wolfpack beat Jones County 5-4 and Houston County 9-1 on Wednesday before Thursday’s finale.
The No. 1 seed Lady Wolfpack (25-6) begin the Class AAAAA State Tournament at home against Region 3’s No. 4 seed Richmond Hill on Wednesday, and have home-field advantage up to the finals as long as they keep winning.
“Whoever’s going to Columbus is going through our field,” said Greenbrier head coach Garrett Black.
Sophomore pitcher Kirsten Titus (18-4) went 3-0 in two days, and was tough from the outset Thursday, holding Jones County (16-16-1) scoreless through five innings while getting 13 groundball outs and two infield pop-ups. The Lady Wolfpack lead was 4-0 until the Lady Greyhounds got to Titus for two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh before she recorded the game’s final out.
“I knew all the girls had my back so I trusted them,” said Titus of the final two innings.
Evans entered the Region 2-AAAAA without the services of its top pitcher and starting center fielder, both of whom had injuries, and fell in two games, losing 7-1 to Houston County and 4-1 to Jones County.
The Lady Knights (18-10-1) will open the Class AAAAA state tournament on the road as a No. 4 seed at Effingham County (18-14), Region 3’s No. 1 seed, on Wednesday.