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Four Columbia County softball teams advance to second round

Posted: October 18, 2017 - 12:44am
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Evans coach Ricky Beale (left) gives a high-five to Diamond Williams after she blasted a grand slam in Game 1 of the Lady Knights’ 20-0 win over Forest Park in the Class AAAAAA Tournament on Friday.

Four Columbia County softball teams are vying today for a chance at playing in the Elite Eight next week in Columbus, Ga.

Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside all won their first-round series to advance to the Class AAAAAA round of 16, while Class AA defending champion Harlem easily moved on. All four teams will play in a best-of-3, second-round series today.

Evans, the Region 3-AAAAAA champ, plays host to Coffee County at 4 p.m. in a doubleheader. The Lady Knights (25-2) seek their first trip to the Elite Eight since 2009.

Greenbrier, the Region 3-AAAAAA runner-up, goes on the road to face Region 1 winner Lee County at 5 p.m. The Lady Wolfpack are trying to send coach Garrett Black back to the Elite Eight one final time after he announced his retirement following the season.

Lakeside, a No. 4 seed, went on the road and shocked Region 4 champion Mundy's Mill in a doubleheader sweep (4-1, 8-0) last week. Now, the Lady Panthers play at No. 3 seed Houston County at 4 p.m. today.

Harlem, the Region 4-AA champion, plays host to Jeff Davis at 4 p.m. in a doubleheader. The Lady Bulldogs (21-6) are seeking their fifth trip to the Elite Eight in six years.

"I'm glad to be a step closer to winning again," Harlem senior outfielder Anasja Sanders said after her team swept Washington County 18-0 and 19-1 in the first round. "No matter how good or bad the opposing team is, you still have to play up because you never know what's going to happen."

Skyler Wiggins, Harlem's No. 1 pitcher and second-leading hitter behind Aleja Dorsey with a .515 batting average, played just one inning against Washington County. She struck out the first two batters in a perfect first frame in Game 1.

In the bottom of the inning, the first seven Lady Bulldogs reached as Harlem went on to score 10 runs.

Leverett played as many players as possible in both games, giving players like Sanders and Wiggins time to rest - 20 Harlem players participated in the nightcap. With Wiggins on the bench, Dixie Hill pitched three innings in the doubleheader, notching the Game 2 victory. Anna Burnett tossed two innings in the second contest.

Evans opened the state playoffs in dominating fashion Friday, knocking off Forest Park, 20-0 and 16-0, in the first round of the Class AAAAAA Tournament - a pair of three-inning contests.

Evans extended its winning streak to 17 games. The Lady Knights recorded 25 hits in the doubleheader.

"We wanted to come out and swing the bats today," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "That was big for us. We came out aggressive early. That's really what you want, to have good swings."

Morgan Johnson went 5 for 5 in the doubleheader with two triples and two doubles to help lead the Lady Knights. Diamond Williams recorded a grand slam, while Leah Powell and Haley McCook each hit home runs.

In Game 1, Powell needed just nine pitches to strike out the first three batters of the game. Her team backed her up in the bottom of the inning.

Sydney Baker plated the game's first run with a double as the first six Evans hitters reached base. The Lady Knights went on to score 11 runs in the opening frame.

In the second inning, Williams launched a grand slam. Two batters later, Powell blasted her 14th homer of the season. Evans plated nine runs in the second and Powell closed out Forest Park in the top of the third.

In Game 2, Haley McCook smashed a two-run homer to left in the decisive second inning, when the Lady Knights scored six runs to extend their lead to 8-0. Evans tagged on eight runs in the third inning to put the contest away. At Greenbrier, a banner hung on the centerfield wall Thursday in appreciation of longtime softball coach Garrett Black, who led his team for the final time on the Lady Wolfpack's home field. Greenbrier swept Lovejoy 15-0 and 21-3 to advance to a second-round road contest.

"It's been a lot of great memories on this field," said Black, who notched his career win No. 650 in the first game of the doubleheader. "A lot of great memories, ones I'll never forget."

Greenbrier improved to 26-8 with the sweep. In the first game, Carrintyn Greene, Rebecca Clark and Kayleigh Nicholson all hit home runs as the Lady Wolfpack cruised to a three-inning victory.

Greenbrier pounded out 15 hits, with Greene, Nicholson and Rachel Crowe each going 3 for 3 at the plate. Beth Romanowski struck out five and didn't allow a hit to collect the victory.

Greenbrier used a 15-run second inning to close out Lovejoy in the second contest. The Lady Wolfpack recorded 13 hits in the second game.

 

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