RINGGOLD, Ga. - It's on to Columbus.
For the third time in the school's six-year history, Heritage is headed to Georgia state softball elite eight.
In their fifth straight state tournament, the Generals punched their Columbus tickets with a pair of five-inning victories over visiting Eastside from Covington, 11-1 and 10-0.
Once again it was junior pitcher Lauren Lawson leading the way, allowing just three hits over the 10 innings pitched.
Now four games into the state tournament as her team readies for quarterfinal play, Lawson has allowed just one run and that one was unearned. In the two games yesterday, she averaged a strikeout per inning.
"She has done this all year and she has become one of the top pitchers in the state," Heritage coach Steve Chattin praised.
It wasn't just Lawson, although she did go 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the first game. Battery mate Shelby Hammontree tripled in a 2-for-3, two-RBI effort; Olivia Tamewitz, in addition to creating her usual havoc on the bases, was 2-for-3 and scored three runs.
The Generals were able to parlay their aggressive baserunning game into one run after another, forcing the defenseless Eagles into five errors.
The Eagles performed better defensively in the second game but came apart in the Heritage fourth when they allowed six runs to score on just two hits. The key Generals hit was a two-run single by Hammontree, who had a combined 4-for-6, four-RBI night.
"The kids did a better job of adjusting at the plate tonight," Chattin said. "In 34 years of coaching, I trust and believe in this team as much as any I've had because of the work ethic and the approach they bring to the field every day."
The win was the No. 30 in 37 tries for the Generals, who now have won 14 of the 30 via shutout and 20 of the 30 by allowing two or fewer runs.
In their three previous trips to Columbia, Heritage has third- and fourth-place finishes.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.