CALHOUN, Ga. - Faced with a decision to go with pure talent or senior experience, Bremen High School softball coach Amy Pointer went with the latter. In choosing senior pitcher Jackie Hightower to start Thursday's deciding game three of the team's Class AA second-round playoff game at Calhoun, Pointer threw the Lady Yellow Jackets a curve.
Hightower limited what had been a hit-hitting lineup to four hits in a 5-0 win, sending the Lady Blue Devils to the elite eight in Columbus next week and ending second-ranked Calhoun's season at 25-12.
"She was hittable, but our girls were so impatient," said Calhoun coach Diane Smith of Hightower, who was chosen over more powerful sophomore Summer Wallace. "These girls love to hit - and I love that about them - but tonight they maybe needed to be a bit more patient. It just wasn't meant to be, I guess."
Smith had to make her own decision in the circle, but it was a forced one after junior ace Alyssa Shawgo experienced severe back pain during Wednesday's doubleheader split. Senior Hannah Wilson had to step in, and though she kept Calhoun in the game, Bremen jumped on her early with all five runs in the first two innings.
The meat of the Bremen lineup, No. 3 hitter Wallace and cleanup Kayleigh Medlin, combined for four hits and four RBIs to lead the 23-7 winners, who are in their first season in Class AA after moving up. Wilson regrouped after the rough start, but the damage was already done.
Calhoun did have its chances but stranded nine runners and twice had the first two batters reach base in an inning. Each time, though, Hightower managed to escape without trouble.
"We had our chances but just couldn't get them around," Smith said. "It was tough not having Alyssa, but Hannah Wilson did a creditable job. We've had a great season, and maybe one of these years we'll get back to Columbus."
Raleigh Fitch and Taylor Kelly had two hits each for Calhoun.
• Dade County, 3, Jefferson 1: At Jefferson, the Lady Wolverines earned a berth in the Class AA state elite eight on the strength of another strong outing from pitcher Madison Gossett and a three-run homer by Madison Lacy in the sixth inning.
After allowing a first-inning run to the Lady Dragons, Gossett allowed just three hits the rest of the way. With Dade trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Haley Gass led off with a triple and Summer Stephens walked to set up Lacy's go-ahead shot to left-center field.