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Seminole, Miller softball win state openers; SGA, Lee fall; Worth ppd. until today

DONALSONVILLE -- The No. 1-seeded Seminole County softball team swept its best-of-three GHSA Class A state tournament opener Wednesday, crushing Charlton County, 10-1, in six innings in Game 1, then escaping with a 3-2 win in Game 2 to advance to next Wednesday's second round, which the Lady Indians will host against Calvary Day.

"We lost in the first round last year, but we've had a great year this season and I hope it continues," Seminole County coach Truette Johnson said.

Jessica Helms was the winning pitcher in Game 1, while Ericka Roberts carried the load in Game 2. Katrice Brown tripled in the opener, while Roberts doubled and Cassie Herring notched two hits. In Game 2 -- with Seminole (26-4) trailing, 2-0, in the top of the sixth inning -- Brown hit a double, Shymeshia Hopkins also had a double and Marie McCall drove a triple to overcome the deficit and help the Lady Indians advance.

MILLER COUNTY 9-8, IRWIN COUNTY 3-0 (5 innings): Seeded just behind their rivals from Seminole, the Lady Pirates (25-8) also advanced in a sweep of their first round state opener Wednesday thanks to two solid outings from starting pitcher Rachel Grimsley, who allowed just nine hits over the two games, while striking out five.

"This has been our best year, by far, since I've been the coach, and I'm really proud of the girls. They've worked really hard," third-year Miller coach Joni Williams said.

In Game 1, Logan Harrell (2-for-3, double), Eden Cunningham (2-for-4, double), Morgan Mock (double, 3 RBI) and Sabrina Grenade (1-for-3, double, 2 RBI) did the damage.

In Game 2, it was once again Cunningham, Mock and Grimsley taking care of business as the trio all went 2-for-3. Miller will travel to face No. 1 seed Bryan County on Wednesday.

LEE FALLS TO EVANS: In GHSA Class AAAA, the Lady Trojans were eliminated Wednesday in their best-of-three series, losing Game 1, 4-0, then getting sent packing early in six innings after a 14-6 loss in Game 2.

Erin Callaway pitched both games for Lee (15-14), and notched two hits in Game 1. Natalie Shiver -- Lee's only senior -- also had two hits in the opener, while Ashley Nichols recorded a double.

"We had a good season despite being young and starting three freshmen," Lee coach Lynn Avery said. "But losing Natalie will hurt. She was our leader and hit .500 (35-for-70) coming into the state tournament. That's tough to replace."

SGA LOSES HEARTBREAKER TO DEFENDING STATE CHAMPS: At around midnight Tuesday, the Lady Warriors (17-4) saw their season come to an end, falling to GISA Class AA defending state champ Flint River in a marathon best-of-three series that was played all in one day.

"It was brutal," SGA coach Tommy Manry said. "We had won 13 in a row coming in and I really thought we had it."

In Game 1, SGA downed Flint River, 10-9, in eight innings thanks to stellar pitching from ace Bailey Ponder, who entered the series with a 0.44 ERA.

But SGA -- which had committed just 35 errors all year in 18 games -- shot itself in the foot for the most part with 17 total errors in the three games as the Lady Warriors lost Game 2, 13-5, and the decisive Game 3, 13-1, despite outhitting Flint River in the finale, 7-6.

"I even called timeout at one point and gathered the girls, but the mistakes kept coming and it just snowballed," Manry said. "They beat themselves up over it afterward, but I told them, 'Hey, you have nothing to be ashamed of. We won region again and we made it further than we did last year at state.' It was a great season all around."

Ponder had a great day at the plate in the series, going 6-for-8 with a homer, two doubles, three singles and driving in six runs. Jenna Kitchings added six hits, scored four runs and had two RBI; Baylee Everson notched two doubles, two singles and three RBI, and Charity Lewis contributed two doubles, two singles and two RBI.

WORTH DELAYED BY RAIN: No. 2-seeded Worth County's Class AAA state opener Wednesday against Mary Persons was postponed due to rain, and will begin with Game 1 today at 3:30 p.m., followed by Game 2 at 5 p.m. and Game 3, if necessary, on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Sylvester.