COLUMBUS, Ga. - One team expected to be there, the other no one saw coming. Top-ranked Northwest Whitfield surived a scare Thursday night to advance to the Class AAAA winners-bracket final at the GHSA Softball Championships.
Dade County, meanwhile, continued its surprising postseason run with two wins in the Class AA bracket. The Lady Wolverines (20-13) used the dominant pitching of junior ace Madison Gossett -- including a no-hitter in the first game -- and timely hitting to down Harlem 6-0 and beat Bremen 4-1.
Dade will face Wesleyan today at 5, with the winner needing just one more win Saturday to claim the title.
"They've really come together at the right time," Dade coach Autumn Sigler said. "Practice has even gone up a notch, and they have learned to take it to teams now. It helps to have a pitcher like Madison. She's a force and she leads us well."
Gossett struck out 16 in her first-game masterpiece and 11 in the second-game two-hitter. Madison Lacy had two hits in each game, but the hitting star was first baseman Carly Stephens, who knocked in one run in game one and accounted for three in game two with two home runs.
The Lady Wolverines are relishing their role as underdogs.
"No one expected much of us, but I expect a ring," Gossett said. "We have to keep hitting and stay solid and keep each other up in the dugout when things go bad. That's been a big key to our turnaround."
Northwest (33-3), after a workmanlike 8-0 win over Rutland in Thursday's opener, had to go extra innings to clip second-ranked Madison County, 8-7. A five-run eighth inning, highlighted by Emily Boyd's three-run homer, was barely enough because Madison scored four runs. Boyd, who threw a one-hitter in game one, allowed only two hits in the late game and had to work around six Lady Bruins' errors.
Macy Weeks and Mallory Souther also had RBI hits in the key eighth inning.