COLUMBUS, Ga. - The championship hopes of Ringgold and Gordon Lee are alive after the two highly ranked teams won a combined five losers-bracket games Friday at the Georgia state softball tournament.
Ringgold's Lady Tigers (31-8) and the Lady Trojans (31-4) will play this morning in the Class AAA and Class A losers-bracket finals. One win will get the northwestern Georgia teams into the finals, where each will need to win two more times to claim the title.
"We're known for playing that one bad game and then bringing it on, and we did it again," Ringgold coach Rachel Hodge said. "It took us nearly two games to settle in because we kicked it around this morning, but a win is a win in Columbus. The girls want a chance at [finalist] Buford, so we have to win that first game in the morning to get that shot."
Ringgold began the long day with an eight-inning 4-3 win over Blessed Trinity with RBI hits in the final inning from Ericka Bynum and Abby McKinney. The Lady Tigers followed with a 6-3 win over Chapel Hill as Lacey Loy had three hits and Devan Brown added two to back the four-hit pitching of freshman McKinney.
They ended the day with a nerve-racking 3-2 win over Jackson County. Bynum hit a first-inning home run and Loy added two RBIs, but it was the clutch pitching of senior Brittany Portwood that sealed the win after Jackson County had a runner at second in the seventh with no outs. Portwood struck out the next two batters, the second fouling off seven pitches, and got a groundout to end the game.
Gordon Lee, meanwhile, had two rather easy wins, 8-0 over Seminole County and 11-0 over Schley County, and in doing so may have introduced the team's next star to the public. Freshman pitcher Emily Armour followed up a five-inning no-hitter with 11 strikeouts with a six-inning perfect game that included 13 strikeouts.
"Emily is a great pitcher, especially for a freshman," Gordon Lee coach Dana Mull said. "I see really good things for her in the fiture. I'm glad she got a taste of it this year, because when you come down here the atmosphere is different. It didn't seem to bother her, because she threw two great games."
Sara Holcomb had four RBIs in the two wins, while Ashley McDonald was 4-for-4 with four runs scored against Schley County.
"Our bats came a little more to life today, and hopefully they'll come alive even more tomorrow," said Mull, whose team had 16 combined hits. "If we just go out and take care of business, we'll be fine."