COLUMBUS, Ga. - The GHSA Class AAA winners-bracket final was one out from being an all-Catoosa County affair before top-ranked Oconee County spoiled the party.
Heritage held a 4-3 lead over the Lady Warriors with two out and no one on base in the seventh inning when an infield hit and an intentional walk preceded senior Caitlyn Glenn's three-run homer to left field and a 6-4 lead. The Generals managed a run in the bottom half on Lauren Lawson's double, but the rally stalled.
At the same time in the adjacent stadium, Ringgold was putting the finishing touches on Allatoona, 7-0, defeating the Region 7-AAA rivals for the first time in three meetings this year on the strength of Hayley Robinson's third-inning grand slam.
Heritage (30-8), which earlier defeated West Laurens 4-0, will have to fight back in the losers bracket, where the Generals will face the winner between Locust Grove and Cross Creek at 1 p.m. today.
"We've got to shake this one off and regroup," Heritage coach Steve Chattin said. "We needed one out but we didn't execute."
Heritage rallied against the pitcher many feel is the best in the state, Geri Ann Glasco, with four runs in the fifth to turn around a 3-0 deficit. Glasco was her own worst enemy, walking three and hitting Lawson to drive in the first run. She then uncorked a wild pitch that crawled up the screen, allowing the tying runs to score.
Oconee coach Bryan Eades replaced Glasco with Courtney Poole and Heritage's Kristin West greeted her with a go-ahead double. However, in the seventh a two-out infield single and an intentional walk to Poole, who had homered earlier, brought up Glenn, who deposited a 2-1 pitch deep over the fence.
Ringgold (26-12), which will face Oconee County today at 5 in the winners' final, was never in trouble against Allatoona. Robinson's homer in the third, her 15th of the season, provided a 5-0 lead, giving more than enough cushion for senior pitcher Kensey Sholl, who pitched a three-hitter.
"We lost to them twice and neither time did we feel like we brought our A-game," Ringgold coach Rachel Hodge said. "We knew we had to bring our bats and we did. We broke a jinx today in that Ringgold has never won a game in this stadium. The big thing is these girls are having fun."
In the earlier 4-1 defeat of Cross Creek, Robinson had a first-inning three-run home, Bynum had two hits and a sacrifice fly, and Adrian Thornton added two hits and a run. Brittany Portwood pitched a five-hitter.
Against West Laurens, Heritage junior Allison Vaughn tossed a one-hitter and Lawson had two hits and two RBIs. Brandy Goldsmith plated the game's first run with a third-inning single, with Lawson's squeeze bunt adding another. Amber Burton had two hits and Goldsmith scored twice.
• Ola 10, Northwest Whitfield 1: The winners took advantage of five walks and three hit batters to send the Lady Bruins (25-7) to the losers bracket. Jordan Brown hit a three-run homer for Ola and scored three runs. Northwest plays Loganville at 11 this morning.
• Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 5, Bleckley County 1: The Lady Warriors pounded out 11 hits, including three for third baseman Devan Brown, in their opening win. Maryanne Morgan, Courtney Crawford and Kandi Gates each added two hits, with Brown driving in two and Morgan and Crawford combining to score all five runs. Junior pitcher Megan Smith allowed just one hit and an unearned run.
• Pike County 4, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 2: The Lady Warriors (25-11) held a 2-0 lead until Pike tied it in the sixth with help from two LFO errors. An RBI double by Lauren Duncan gave Pike the lead in the seventh. Gates and Beth Posey put LFO on the board in the first inning with RBI singles, but the Lady Warriors, who play today at 1 in the losers bracket, stranded eight runners in the first five innings.
• Pike County 5, Fannin County 0: The Lady Rebels (25-15), making their first appearance in the Elite Eight, committed five errors in losing their opener. Fannin pitcher Sadie Golden allowed only one earned run, but her team managed just two hits. Fannin plays Bleckley County this morning at 9 in the losers bracket.