COLUMBUS, Ga. - Colbie Thomas may have summed up the day best. The Northwest Whitfield senior outfielder, after helping lead her team to a repeat of the GHSA Class AAAA softball championship Saturday over familiar foe Heritage, said having to defeat the Generals was akin to going against family.
"It was a big challenge because we know each other so well -- it's like playing against your sisters," Thomas said after the deciding 12-6 win. "They've gotten us several times this year, but we all did our jobs and came out on top in the biggest one."
Heritage, in fact, set up the final game with a 6-4 win over the Lady Bruins after eliminating top-ranked Madison County, 2-1. The eighth and final meeting between the two Region 7 rivals included 16 hits by Northwest, though the game wasn't put away until a four-run sixth inning.
"I felt we had it all the time," said Thomas, who had two hits and scored twice in the finale. "The first game was disappointing, but we stayed positive and everybody hit. I love this team, and we got hot at the right time. I wanted to lay it all on the line because this was my final game at Northwest."
The Lady Bruins (36-7), who scored in every inning, finally put the Generals (34-9) away in the sixth on consecutive RBI hits from Mallory Souther, Jameson Payne and BriLeigh Baggett. Northwest pitcher Baggett, who pitched every inning of the postseason, worked through three errors to get the win, allowing seven hits.
For a Heritage team that loses only one senior, the tournament was a learning experience, coach Steve Chattin hopes.
"We're disappointed we fell short of our goal, but we're extremely proud of the way the girls battled until the end," Chattin said. "They believed they could win the game right to the last out, and you can't ask for more. After losing last night it would have been extremely easy, after getting into the hotel at 1:30, to come out dead today, but they didn't.
"I think the experience of being here will be invaluable for us because only three of the kids had ever played here, so hopefully we will learn from it and it will drive them to want to come back next year."
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.