Five of the six softball teams from northwest Georgia that reached the state tournament in Columbus this week will play on championship Saturday. Two of them, Heritage and Gordon Lee, are already in the title round.
On Friday, reigning Class AAAA champion Heritage (28-7) defeated Madison County 4-1 and then beat Oconee County, 5-2 in the winners-bracket final. Rachel Gibson allowed nine hits and struck out 26 batters while pitching two complete games, and Carmen Gayler was the hero at the plate after belting a walk-off three-run homer versus Madison County and adding two more RBIs against Oconee County.
Gordon Lee (32-1), which won both of its games Thursday, defeated Commerce 8-0 in the Class A public winners-bracket final on Friday. Emma Langston worked around five hits and struck out six Commerce batters, with Maddie Clark going 2-for-3 with three RBIs to back her and help the team step closer to a fifth straight state title.
Heritage and Gordon Lee will await their opponents for the 2 p.m. title round, with a second game necessary only if the winners-bracket champions lose.
Calhoun and Ringgold, losers of first-round games Thursday in Class AAA, each won twice Friday to stay alive.
Region 6 champion Ringgold (27-4) rolled past Lumpkin County 10-1 before edging East Hall 3-2. Kaylee Phillips earned the pitching win in each game. Amber Gainer had two hits, drove in two runs and scored twice against Lumpkin County, and her bunt against East Hall was misplayed in the seventh inning, allowing Taylor Layne to score the winning run.
Calhoun (22-15) rallied with four runs in the seventh inning to get past Jefferson 10-7 in its first game Friday before riding Maggie McBrayer's six-hit shutout to defeat Southeast Bulloch 3-0. Erin Barnes hit a pair of home runs and Hannah Mashburn had three hits against Jefferson, and Lyndi Rae Davis had two hits and knocked in a run in the second game.
Calhoun and Ringgold will face off at 10 a.m. to see who advances to the losers-bracket final to face Lovett.
In Class A public, Trion, after losing to Gordon Lee in Thursday's first round, remained alive with a 9-0 win over Lanier County and an 8-4 victory over Georgia Military College. Whitney Shepherd allowed one earned run in 11 1/3 innings, while Jenna Mosley had a homer against Lanier and a double against GMC, driving in four runs for the day.
Trion (22-4) will face another Region 6 rival, Bowdon, in a 10 a.m. losers-bracket semifinal, with the winner taking on Commerce for the right to play Gordon Lee in the title round.
LaFayette (20-13) was eliminated from the Class AAAA bracket after falling 9-3 to Oconee County and 4-1 to Northside-Columbus.