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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Ringgold shortstop Riley Nayadley, right, and other Lady Tigers infielders congratulate pitcher Kaylee Phillips, center, after she caught a sharp line drive during a GHSA Class AAA state playoff game Wednesday in Ringgold, Ga.
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RINGGOLD, Ga. — If the rest of Georgia's Class AAA softball teams were wondering if Ringgold was for real, they found the answer Wednesday.

The Tigers opened the GHSA playoffs with a sweep of 20-win Morgan County, 12-0 in four innings and 7-0 in game two, firmly announcing their candidacy as a title contender. Ringgold (22-3) pounded out 26 hits in 11 innings, eight of them for extra bases, and shut down a lineup that had consistently produced this season.

"If you had told me we would do that, I probably wouldn't believe you," Ringgold coach Daniel Hackett said. "They had scored 170 runs this year, so I was expecting a few runs, but we just shut them down and never let them get going."

Shelby Cole was 3-for-3 with two three-run home runs and seven RBIs in game, then added a pair of hits in game two. Riley Nayadley had two hits and two RBIs in each game, Ava Raby four combined hits, Addi Broome three hits and three RBIs and Jade Gainer two hits, including a game-two homer.

Senior pitcher Kaylee Phillips earned the wins in both games, going three innings in game one and five in game two, with fellow senior Taylor Thomas keeping the shutouts intact in each game.

"Kaylee works her spots so well," Hackett said. "She knows what she does best and she knows when and where she can and can't miss, and that showed the most today. When she gets a runner on, she focuses even more."

The Ringgold offense made things easier for the pitchers with early runs. The Tigers put up five runs in the first inning of game one, then added four in the second inning, three on Cole's first blast to left field. She later ended the game with an identical shot.

"Going into this thing, there were two girls I have been so proud of in two of our seniors, Shelby and KP (Phillips)," Hackett said. "They played and filled their roles like I knew they could."

The scoring in game two was a little slower to come, but Nayadley's double put a run on the board in the first inning, and Amber Gainer's run-scoring single, Baliegh Pitts' bases-loaded walk and Nayadley's sacrifice fly made it 4-0 in the second.

Ringgold will host Tattnall County in next Wednesday's second round.

* Also in Class AAA, Calhoun split at home against Jackson County, winning 5-2 before losing a slugfest 12-10. Espee Reyes and Lyndi Rae Davis hit homers in game one to back Maggie McBrayer's pitching. The visitors scored eight first-inning runs to take control of game two, though the Yellow Jackets (17-13) had the tying runs on base in the seventh inning before falling. Game three is at 5 p.m. Thursday in Calhoun.

Coahulla Creek won 4-3 and lost 8-5 against Franklin County. Jillian Poe had a pair of RBIs in the opener, when Sophia Voyles got the complete-game pitching win, and had a home run and four RBIs in game two. Game three is at 5 p.m. Thursday at Franklin County.

Sonoraville also split, winning 11-1 before losing 7-6 at Jefferson. Taylor Long struck out 13 in game one, with Shayne Dutton providing three hits and four RBIs. The Dragons used two RBIs from Chloe Hyatt and MacKenzie Turner and four Phoenix errors to win game two. The deciding game is at 5 p.m. Thursday at Jefferson.

* In Class AA, Dade County's season ended with a 10-1 loss to Bremen in a deciding game three in Trenton. Bremen's Ali Newland hit two homers and drove in five runs, with Shelby Daniel adding three hits and two RBIs. Kristen Fowler had the RBI for Dade (17-8).

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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