RINGGOLD, Ga. — The Heritage High School softball team had not played in almost two weeks, so coach Tanner Moore wasn't sure what to expect of his Lady Generals in Wednesday night's Region 6-AAAA championship series.
Apparently, he need not have worried. Heritage used a pair of big first innings and Rachel Gibson's clutch pitching to sweep LaFayette, 4-2 and 6-0, in the best-of-three series.
Heritage (18-6) and LaFayette (15-9) both will host first-round state playoff series next week, but the Lady Generals own the region title and would also host in the second round of state.
"I am so proud of our girls for coming out with energy from the first pitch on," Moore said. "We answered the call from the first pitch."
Riley KoKinda and Katie Proctor had RBIs in the first inning of game one, with Reagan Armour adding a two-run double in the fourth. Gibson, who allowed two hits in each game, gave up a run in the fourth but stranded the bases loaded for the Lady Ramblers' lone big threat.
Game two's scoring started with Bailey Christol scoring on an error, followed by Armour's run-scoring double, Gibson's RBI walk and Mallory Lowe's RBI on a fielder's choice. The runs were more than enough for Gibson, who got stronger as the night wore on and finished with 13 strikeouts.
"Rachel is a magician at working out of things," Moore said. "She excels in the big situations and tonight got out of two bases-loaded jams. She's special, and she keeps pushing herself to get better."
* In the Region 6-AAA tournament, No. 2 seed Calhoun used a strong pitching performance from Maggie McBrayer to defeat top-seeded Sonoraville 3-1 in the winners-bracket final.
McBrayer did not allow an earned run and struck out six batters. Calhoun (21-7) got a solo home run from Lindy Rae Davis and an RBI single from Carlie Henderson. The Lady Yellow Jackets will await the winner of today's losers-bracket final between Sonoraville and Ringgold in the 7 p.m. championship game.
Ringgold (15-14), the surprise of the tournament after coming in as the fifth seed, rallied to defeat Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 5-3 earlier Wednesday in the losers bracket before upsetting No. 3 seed Coahulla Creek 8-6.
The Lady Tigers used a two-run homer from Shelby Cole in the fifth inning to go ahead of LFO, making a winner of pitcher Kaylee Phillips. In game two, a trio of freshmen led the way. Baileigh Pitts hit a pair of home runs, Autumn Green had three hits and an RBI, and pitcher Taylor Layne worked around nine hits to earn the win.
"We finally look like we want to come out and play right now," Ringgold coach Daniel Hackett said. "It's like they were just waiting on this tournament for some reason. We started slowly in each game, but the girls really stayed with it."
* Dalton pulled off a pair of upsets in the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament in Woodstock, rolling past state-ranked Creekview 12-5 to clinch a state playoff berth before shocking top-ranked Allatoona 6-3 to earn a spot opposite Harrison in tonight's championship game.
Olivia Whaley had four hits, including a triple and double, while McCall Maret added three hits and Lauren Parker two in game one. Brooke Belflower had the big hit in game two's upset, a three-run homer in the fourth inning, while Maret added two hits and three RBIs.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.