LOCAL PREP/COLLEGE ROUNDUP: Baconton, Seminole, Miller softball all advance in state; ASU wins again, wraps up No. 1 tourney seed

BACONTON — The Baconton Charter softball team beat Johnson County, 5-2 and 10-6, in the first round of the GHSA Class A state tournament Wednesday, notching the Lady Blazers’ first win in state since the program was started in 2004.

The win advances Baconton to the Elite Eight round next Thursday in Columbus, where Baconton will face No. 1 seed Gordon Lee.

Gracie Cranford picked up the win in both games on the mound to help Baconton improve to 21-7 overall on the season and marking the team’s best record in school history.

Also advancing from Baconton’s region were Seminole County and Miller County after the Lady Indians beat Commerce, 4-0 and 5-3, and the Lady Pirates beat Lanier, 7-1 and 13-3 in five innings, giving Region 1-A three of the final eight teams heading into next week’s Elite Eight.

Seminole (29-4) plays Mt. Zion, Carroll, while Miller faces the winner of Telfair County and Trion.

Rachel Grimsley and Lynleigh Kay Hall won both games for Miller (23-9) on the mound. Jessi Helms and Erika Roberts were the winning pitchers for Seminole.

Lady Rams stay perfect in conference, clinch No. 1 seed

ATLANTA — Another conference team and another 3-0 victory.

It’s that simple for the Albany State volleyball team, which has dominated conference opponents this season, winning 48-of-49 sets.

That domination continued Wednesday against Clark Atlanta when the Lady Rams swept the Lady Panthers (25-14, 25-18, 25-17), improved to 14-0 in the conference and clinched the East Division’s No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.

Heading into Sunday’s game at home against Claflin University, the Lady Rams have won five in a row, including the last three on the road.

“We have shown a lot of character,” ASU coach Robert Skinner said. “Especially (Wednesday) night because we knew Clark would come out and play some really good volleyball.”

The Lady Panthers have lost just two conference games all season, and they were both to ASU, which was led Wednesday by Sharme Ridley.

Ridley finished with a game-high 18 kills and three service aces, while Amber Gatling (5 kills), Jillian Anderson (4) and Ashley Johnson (4) also had good games at the net. Jennifer Johnson dished out 30 assists, Adrienne Morris led with 13 digs.