VALDOSTA — Sophomore infielder Chelsea Hicks hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning to spark the Albany State Lady Rams to a 2-1 victory over the Saint Leo Lady Lions in the NCAA Division II South Regional Softball Tournament on Saturday.
With the win, the Lady Rams made school and conference history by claiming the first-ever NCAA tournament victory in softball.
ASU advanced to play No. 15 Tampa late Saturday and lost, 6-2, ending the season with a 37-26 record. No stats were available for the game.
Saint Leo, the 23rd-ranked team in the nation, finishes with a record of 40-15.
Saint Leo, the Sunshine State Conference champions, scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Lady Lions until the top of the fourth inning when Ambrionna Atkism hit a double, and Chaconna Marks later scored her with a single to help the Lady Rams tie the score at 1-1.
Hicks emerged as the offensive heroine in the top of the sixth inning when she hit her homer to give ASU the 2-1 lead the Lady Rams would not relinquish.
Marks led the Lady Rams offensively with two hits. Pitcher Alexa Lopez (15-8) collected the win. She pitched all seven innings and only gave up five hits and two walks.
SGA baseball advances to second round for first time since 2009
DAMASCUS — Southwest Georgia Academy beat Central Fellowship, 8-5, on Saturday to sweep the series and advance to the second round of the GISA Class AA state playoffs for the first time since 2009.
SGA faces Brentwood, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, on the road Friday in the Elite 8 round of the playoffs.
Quinn LaGuardia threw 4 2/3 innings of relief on Saturday to pick up the win. He gave up two earned runs on six hits and struck out three, and he also had a double and drove in two runs. Cabe Ratchel went 2-for-4 with a double and drove in two runs for SGA.
Matt Jernigan went the distance on Friday to beat Fellowship, 6-1, in the opener of the best-of-three series. He struck out seven and allowed one run on five hits. He also went 1-for-3, stole two bases and drove in a run. Garrett Van went 2-for-3 with a triple, and stole two bases and scored twice. Jake Odom went 2-for-2 with a double.
SOUTHLAND COMES BACK TO WIN SERIES: Southland, a No. 4 seed, came back to win the best-of-three series against top-seeded Loganville Christian on the road in the first round of the GISA Class AAA state playoffs.
After giving up nine runs in the first inning and losing the opening game 11-10, Southland evened the series with a 3-0 win, and then won the rubber match, 13-1, in a five-inning mercy rule game on Saturday.
Dillon Hughes went the five-inning distance and allowed one run on two hits while striking out two. Hughes also hit a home run and a double, going 3-for-4 and driving in five runs. Brandon Looney went 2-for-3 with a double and also drove in five runs.
Southland (8-12) will face Mount de Sales in Macon at a time to be determined next weekend.
TAE ADVANCES: After losing the second game, 10-7, of a three-game series to Covington in the opening round of the GISA Class AA state baseball playoffs, Terrell Academy bounced back Saturday with a 16-0, three-inning victory to advance to the second round.
Clint Smith pitched three no-hit innings in Game No. 2, while Josh Brunswick led the Eagles at the plate with four RBI and a double. Smith added three RBI, and Logan Maxwell had two RBI for TAE (16-6), which will host Edmund Burke in the second round next week.