LEESBURG -- Lee County softball's youth is apparent.
And that youth showed Thursday in its regular-season finale, a 3-1 loss to Thomas County Central, which clinched the 1A-AAAA subregion No. 1 seed for the Lady Yellow Jackets and left the Lady Trojans with the subregion's No. 2 seed headed into next week's region tournament.
The Lady Trojans, most of whom still have their learner's permit license, were outhit, 10-3, in their second loss of the season to TCC.
"We just had two get their driver's license," Lee County head coach Lynn Avery joked after the game. "We've only had three on the team that could drive. It's the youngest team I've ever coached."
With just two seniors and six starting sophomores, the Lady Trojans (15-6, 2-2 Region 1A-AAAA) are still figuring out the off-speed pitches -- and parallel parking.
TCC (17-9-1, 4-0 Region 1A-AAAA) used its own youth movement Thursday behind the arm or freshman pitcher Kendall Stanaland, who allowed just one run in seven innings. Lee County managed only three hits off her.
The only Lady Trojans' run came in the bottom of the first when senior and reigning Herald Player of the Year Lindsay Tompkins drove in Brandi Blount with a single to tie the game at 1-1. But Lee's Natalie Shiver then got caught in a rundown between third and home after she was waved home on the hit.
Stanaland cruised from there and TCC took the lead in the third on Layne McDermond's run-scoring single. Tompkins held the Lady Yellow Jackets until the seventh, when TCC's Jenna Reeves added an insurance run with a RBI knock.
"It's a building experience," said Tompkins, who was honored before the game, along with Jessi Jones, as the lone seniors on the team. "We've got to go in strong for the region tournament and get some fire under our butts."
Tompkins threw 104 pitches in the complete-game effort, but saw her record fall to 13-6 on the season. She went 1-for-2 at the plate with the only Lady Trojans RBI. Sophomores Paiton Cromer and Lauren Davis added the other Lee hits.
"We just didn't execute the way we wanted to," Avery said. "Of course I'm disappointed that we lost. We've got to forget about this and work for next week."
The Region 1-AAAA softball tournament begins Tuesday in Cordele with 4 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. games each day. Lee County, the No. 2 seed from subregion 1A, will play the No. 3 seed from subregion 1B, likely either Hardaway or Northside-Columbus. Because subregion 1B-AAAA has five teams and subregion 1A-AAAA only has three teams, the five seed from 1B will become the No. 4 seed in Region 1A.
Lee County will need two wins in the region tournament to advance to the state playoffs with a shot to continue its streak of three consecutive years in the Class AAAA Elite Eight in Columbus.
The bus driver will provide the valid driver's license. Lee County's young bats, however, will need to provide the run production.
"Looking forward to the fourth (trip to the Elite Eight)," Tompkins said. "If we play like we can play, we'll be able to make it."