COLUMBUS, Ga. - Northwest Whitfield and Calhoun played their way into the championship round of the GHSA Softball Championships in Class AAAA and AA, respectively, after late-night wins Friday.
The Lady Bruins (35-6), the reigning AAAA champs, used two home runs by senior catcher Bayli Cruse, including a third-inning grand slam, to edge Region 7 rival Heritage, 5-4. The Generals (32-8), who had defeated Northwest in four of five meetings this season, had taken a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Lauren Lawson's home run.
Cruse, who capped Northwest's title a year ago with a walk-off homer, hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first, then put her team ahead in the third. BriLeigh Baggett made the lead hold up, allowing a total of seven hits and striking out eight. Heritage will play the winner of the Wayne County/Madison County game this morning at 11, with the winner of that game facing Northwest and having to defeat the Lady Bruins twice.
Calhoun defeated top-ranked Heard County, 3-1, to reach the title round as Kinsey Liscio pitched a four-hitter with seven strikeouts. Hot-hitting Emily Weatherman had two RBIs and Taylor Kelly and Jana Johns added two hits each. The Lady Yellow Jackets (32-6) will need just one more win to claim the AA title.
In Class A, Gordon Lee lost a pitcher's dual to Georgia Military College, 1-0, as GMC's Dixie Raley and Gordon Lee's Emily Armour (15 strikeouts) each pitched one-hitters. The Lady Trojans (30-6) also lost to GMC (27-3) in last year's tournament but came back to beat the Bulldogs twice in the championship round to win the title.
Gordon Lee will start its play this morning at 11 against the winner of the Seminole County/Hawkinsville game. Each of the championship rounds will begin at 1, with "if necessary" games following at 3.