COLUMBUS, Ga. - After a lackluster first day at home plate during the GHSA state softball tournament, Ringgold coach Rachel Hodge decided a little extra work was in order.
The Lady Tigers responded with 21 hits in a 15-4 win in the Class AAA losers bracket late Friday night in a tournament day that was hit with a long rain delay. Ringgold (32-6) will play Central-Carroll this morning at 9 and will have to win three more games to earn the championship.
Three other area teams were still playing in winners-bracket finals into the morning hours at the Columbus Softball Complex. Heritage and Northwest Whitfield were playing each other in Class AAAA, Calhoun was facing Heard County in AA and Gordon Lee was playing Georgia Military College in Class A public school competition.
Dade County had its championship hopes end Friday with a 2-1 loss to Berrien County in Class AA.
In Ringgold's rousing win, which was tainted in the first inning when senior Nicole Cross suffered an apparent broken leg sliding into second base, Taylor Chadwick led the hit parade by going 5-for-5 and scoring four runs. Abbey McKinney had three doubles and scored three times, while Karoline Sholl added three hits and three runs.
"We hit at Columbus High School today during the weather delay, and we challenged them to bring their bats tonight," Hodge said. "They did and I'm very proud to be moving onto championship Saturday, even though it's a little different this year. The girls play like eight games a weekend in the summer, so they're ready for the challenge."
Dade's loss came despite another masterful outing from senior pitcher Madison Gossett, who allowed only one hit in her final prep appearance. Four errors proved to be the undoing of the Lady Wolverines (25-14), with two-out miscues leading to single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Dade took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Summer Stevens' RBI double, but Berrien pitcher Allyson Dowdy allowed only two hits in the final six innings.
"We struggled with slower pitchers all season, and that's what happened tonight," Dade co-coach Autumn Sigler said. "Softball is a game of ups and downs, and we were down at the wrong time."
Stevens and Madison Lacy had two hits each for Dade, which struggled early in the season but made a late postseason push.
"It was a great run," co-coach Christine Core said. "A few months ago people were saying we wouldn't make it back, but our seniors -- all nine of them -- really came together down the stretch. You have to give props to Berrien. This is the best Elite Eight I've ever seen, and all the teams are stepping up down here."
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