RINGGOLD, Ga. -- One major goal accomplished, one to go for the Heritage Generals, who said both goodbye and hello to Columbus on Thursday.
The Generals, ranked third in Georgia in Class AAA, swept Columbus High 7-0 and 8-1 to earn a berth into the state Elite Eight in Columbus next week.
Two big innings were more than enough for junior pitcher Allison Vaughn, who limited eighth-ranked Columbus to eight hits and one unearned run in the two victories. Heritage (29-7) sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning of game one, scoring six, and a six-run seventh inning in game two opened up what had been a tight contest for the Region 7-AAA champions.
Ringgold, meanwhile, extended its series at Carrollton until today at 4 p.m. with a 5-1 second-game win Thursday after losing 2-1.
The other Catoosa County high school, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, upset Class AA's top-ranked team with 4-2 and 3-2 wins at Greater Atlanta Christian, and Fannin County also advanced in AA by defeating Lovett 3-0 and 6-0 at Blue Ridge. North Murray lost 8-2 and 8-2 at Buford. In Class AAAA, Northwest Whitfield lost 4-3 to Pope in their first game.
"Even though we didn't score the first couple of innings, we felt real good about how we were hitting and we finally broke it open," Heritage coach Steve Chattin said. "In the second game their pitcher did a much better job controlling us, and it was a lot closer than the score indicated."
In game one, Jesslyn Stockard began the scoring with a two-run single to open the flood gates. Renae Johnson followed with an RBI double and Shea Headrick completed the scoring with a two-run double.
The second game was scoreless through four innings as Columbus pitcher Alexis Jones matched Vaughn pitch for pitch. The Generals finally broke the tie when Kristin West doubled with two out and Stockard singled her home. It was 2-0 in the seventh when seven consecutive batters reached with one out, including Johnson's two-run double and a pair of Columbus errors.
Vaughn nearly had the double shutout, but a two-out error in the bottom of the seventh allowed the Lady Bulldogs' only run.
"She pitched as well tonight as she has all year," Chattin praised. "We hope to keep this up and we're not going to taking any time off. We want to do the same things we've always done, and our goal is to win it."
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 ...