GHSA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Commons Complex in Columbus
Class A Championship
GORDON LEE 6, WESLEYAN 1
Wesleyan 010 000 0 -- 1 6 1
Gordon Lee 321 000 x -- 6 8 3
WP: Brenna Nation, 7 Ks. LP: Dacia Jones. HR: Nation (GL). 2B: Kendall Johnson (GL). Other highlights: Sam Taylor 3-4, RBI, run; Nation 2 RBIs; Lexis Robertson 2 runs (GL). Records: Gordon Lee 37-1; Wesleyan 25-13.
Class AAA Losers-Bracket Final
WEST LAURENS 5, RINGGOLD 4
West Laurens 000 122 0 -- 5 6 1
Ringgold 002 020 0 -- 4 6 5
WP: Abi LeRoy. LP: Kensey Sholl. HR: LeRoy (WL). 3B: Ericka Bynum (R). 2B: Erika Burkhart, Savannah Bailey (R). Other highlights: LeRoy 2 hits, 2 RBIs; Kayla Gay, Reigh Wilchel, Laura Spivey RBI each (WL); Bynum 3-3, 2 RBIs; Burkhart 2 runs; Bailey 2 runs (R). Records: West Laurens 35-7-1; Ringgold 26-14.
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- As Kelsie Bickett squeezed the final pitch sealing their second consecutive Georgia Class A state softball championship, the Gordon Lee Lady Trojans began a bittersweet celebration Saturday.
They had just finished off Wesleyan, 6-1, to complete a 37-1 season, and for seven seniors it was an appropriate end to four years, two titles, two runner-up finishes and 145 wins.
"I've had a lot of good groups, but one like this doesn't come around very often," Gordon Lee coach Dana Mull said. "They're winners on and off the field, they never stop and they expect to win. It's a very talented group, but their work ethic is just as good."
Those seniors did most of the damage Saturday, as they did during the entire Elite Eight competition in which Gordon Lee outscored its opponents 33-4. Pitcher Brenna Nation allowed a second-inning run and then settled down to complete a six-hitter with seven strikeouts. She also set the tone offensively with a first-inning two-run homer against a stiff wind.
"That was surprising because it doesn't happen for me very often," said Nation, the team's ace for three years. "It was nice to get those early runs because we came in a little tense because we knew this was our last day together."
Senior second baseman Sam Taylor led an eight-hit attack with three hits, including an RBI single in the second that preceded Jordyn Hamill's run-scoring groundout and a 5-1 lead. Senior Lexis Robertson walked twice and scored two runs, and shortstop Kendall Johnson drove home the game's first run with a double.
"We've always done it with teamwork and hustle, and it worked again today," Taylor said. "Once we got the early runs we settled down. It's a great way to go out."
The game Lady Lions (25-13) scored their lone run on Holli Wilkins' single in the second. Wilkins is the daughter of former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball great Gerald Wilkins, who was in attendance. Wesleyan had two runners on in the fifth, but Nation retired cleanup hitter Katie Frerking on a groundout to end the game's final threat.
"It's great to get to go out like this together," Nation said. "We've been playing together since we were little, so it's exciting, but also a little sad."
In Class AAA, Ringgold had to settle for a third-place finish after falling to West Laurens, 5-4, in the losers-bracket final Saturday morning. The Lady Tigers (26-14) had two leads in the back-and-forth game but lost it for good in the fifth when Abi LeRoy hit a two-run homer to center for West Laurens (35-7-1).
Ericka Bynum had three of Ringgold's six hits and drove in two runs, including an RBI triple in the fifth that temporarily put her team up 4-3.
"These kids fought and they take pride in Ringgold softball," said coach Rachel Hodge, whose team graduates five seniors. "We had a great tournament. You always feel like you could have done more, but you can't change anything. Those five seniors -- Erika Burkhart, Adrian Thornton, Savannah Bailey, Hayley Robinson and Kensey Sholl -- have amazing talent and they've shown the younger kids how to play the game."
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 ...