RINGGOLD, Ga. — If the Ringgold Lady Tigers believed they would have a cakewalk to the Region 5-AAA softball tournament championship, they found out differently Thursday against a rival that had other things in mind.
Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe scored two quick runs and led by one into the fifth inning before Ringgold rallied behind the hot bat of senior Ericka Bynum for a 4-3 victory.
Bynum's two-out single in the bottom of the seventh drove home Abby McKinney from second base with the winning run, sending the Lady Tigers (23-5) into tonight's championship game.
LFO (17-14) will play North Murray today at 5 at the Jack Mattox Complex in the losers-bracket final, with the winner facing Ringgold at 7 in the title game. North Murray edged Cartersville 5-4 in the late game Thursday.
"This is how, from here on out, the games are going to be," Ringgold coach Rachel Hodge said. "Lakeview played an awesome game. That's the kind of Ringgold-Lakeview game I remember, tight from the start. My girls hit the ball so hard all game, and though they hit several right at them, I felt good about it. This was a huge win, but the next one is even bigger."
Four consecutive LFO hits with two out in the first inning plated the two runs, with Chyanne Burns and Paige Langston getting the RBIs on back-to-back singles. Ringgold tied the game in the third on Chandler Turner's two-out, two-run single, but the Lady Warriors jumped back up a run in the fourth on Langston's single.
Bynum then took over. Her two-out single in the fifth tied the game, and with speedy freshman McKinney on second with two out in the seventh, she laced a clean single to left field to end it.
"It feels great. It wasn't just me, I had plenty of help from my teammates, and it feels so good to win," Bynum said. "I was hoping to get a chance to win it. We haven't won region in a long time, and now that we've gotten this far I'm ready to take it all the way."
Bynum had three hits and McKinney added two for Ringgold, while Carroll and Langston had two hits each for LFO.
Earlier Thursday, Cartersville eliminated Coahulla Creek, 8-0, and North Murray earned a spot in the state tournament with a 1-0 win over Sonoraville.
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 ...