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PREP SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: Worth softball one win from region crown, No. 1 state seed; Lee advances to state

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

SYLVESTER -- Talk about a double-double, try this one: How about hitting a home run and stealing home in the same game?

Not a problem for Worth County's Kimmy Lee, who went yard and then swiped home in Worth's 9-3 win against Crisp County on Wednesday that sent the Lady Rams into today's 4 p.m. Region 1-AAA final.

"She does it all the time,'' said Haley Ellis, Worth's power-hitting catcher. "She can steal at any time.''

Lee can fly. Everyone who faces Worth knows that. But the homer?

That may have been a little unexpected at Crisp, but Worth coach

Russell Beard said he saw it coming.

"We've been waiting all year for her to go to right-center,'' he said. "The minute she hit it, I knew it was gone.''

Lee's solo shot came with two outs in the fourth. She laced a 1-2 pitch that left the park in a hurry, lifting Worth to a 4-1 lead.

"I didn't think it was going to be a home run,'' said Lee, who has two homers this season. "I thought it was going to hit the fence."

She was a lot more certain about her steal of home. That came in a wild, three-run fifth when Crisp attempted to pick Lee off third base.

She darted home on the throw to third, and slid in safely to give Worth a 9-3 lead it wouldn't relinquish.

So what's better: Hitting a homer or stealing home?

"Stealing,'' Lee said. "I love stealing.''

You can tell. And Worth loves winning. The Lady Rams are about as used to winning as they are to Lee stealing bases. They're 25-2 and have a chance to win the Region 1-AAA title today. Crisp (13-8-1) and Cairo meet at 2 p.m. in a loser's bracket game, and the winner plays Worth at 4 p.m. If Crisp beats Cairo and then beats Worth it would force a 6 p.m. showdown for the title, because it's a double-elimination tournament.

"Oh, we're going to play Crisp,'' Lee said with confidence. "And I'll steal home again.''

Crisp needs to bring some leather back to Sylvester today. The Lady Cougars made nine errors.

"We don't need to bring a glove. We need two gloves,'' Crisp coach Kevin Blampied said. "They're a real good team, and you can't give a team like that four outs in an inning. We made those errors and never gave ourselves a chance. We had nine errors, and against a team like that you're never going to recover. You have to make plays. If you don't, they will make you pay.''

And when Crisp left the door open, Worth battered it with some big bats.

Everyone knows about Worth's other double-double in the heart of the order. That's the Ellis twins, Haley and Heather. They both hit a pair of doubles against Crisp, and Haley would have had three doubles, but her third hit of the day hit the center field fence so hard it bounced back and prevented her from getting more than a single.

Heather's two-run double off the left field wall in the first came right after an error and a walk. She scored moments later from second when Lauren Potts grounded out to short, sliding into home on a wild throw to the plate.

Haley doubled in the third and then -- after Lee's homer and a walk to Morgan Bell -- the twins hit back-to-back doubles in the three-run fourth to lift Worth to a 6-1 lead. Haley finished the day, going 3-for-3 with a walk. She scored twice and drove in a run while Heather scored once and went 2-for-4 with three RBI.

Heather, a shortstop, made the play of the day in the sixth when she ran into the grass in short left field to make a diving over-the-shoulder catch to steal a hit from Hallye Hobbs. Then she doubled up the runner at first base, tossing her out with a throw from her knees.

"That was a great play,'' said Beard, who believes he has the best defensive team in Georgia. "Can you believe she threw her out from her knees?''

Believe it. And believe Worth can play defense. The Lady Rams made three double plays, including a back-breaker in the third. Crisp, trailing 3-0, had the bases loaded with no outs against Bell, and Jensen Holt ripped a hard grounder to second. Lauren Potts made the play and came home to Haley Ellis for the force at the plate, and Ellis but fired to third, where Lee put the tag on Hollie Greene.

"We make double plays all the time,'' Lee said.

But almost no one has the home run/steal of home double-double.

"No, you don't see that very often,'' Beard said. "But Kimmy Lee is as good as (anyone). And she has speed.''

And Worth has one more win to nail down a region title.

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LEE COUNTY REACHES STATE TOURNEY:

CORDELE -- Facing elimination, Lee County's softball team slammed the door Wednesday afternoon, then slammed it again.

And by the time it was over, Lee's Lindsay Tompkins had saved the season by not only winning back-to-back games in the Region 1-AAAA tournament, but tossing one shutout inning after another as Lee survived to climb out of the loser's bracket, beating Hardaway, 6-0, and then moved on by beating Northside, Columbus, 1-0.

The Lady Trojans (18-7) meet Houston County today at 4 p.m. at the Cordele Complex, and if they win they face unbeaten Northside, Warner Robbins afterward. A win against Northside, Warner Robbins would force a title game showdown.

By winning both games, Lee is guaranteed at least third place in the region, which means the Lady Trojans will go to the state tournament.

"We're just excited about being there and getting to come back for one more day,'' Lee coach Lynn Avery said. "We're a young team, and we're going to the state tournament.''

A win against Houston County would guarantee at least second place, and that would mean Lee would play host in the first round next Wednesday. That's how far the Lady Trojans came in one day -- from elimination to a chance to host a first-round series.

Tompkins shut out Hardaway on two hits, striking out two along the way, and Hailey Scott got Lee off and rolling with a two-run homer in a five-run first inning. Scott and Brandi Blount went 2-for-4 to lead the way, while Jessi Jones went 1-for-3. Alyson Marshall went 1-for-3 with a triple and Paiton Cromar went 1 for 2 for the Lady Trojans.