DAMASCUS — It’s been a year full of memories and records for the Southwest Georgia Academy softball team, and on Thursday the 2013 season got a little more special.
The Lady Warriors (20-0) swept Southland in the GISA Class AAA state quarterfinals to advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history and will travel to Dublin on Saturday with a shot to advance to the state championship series on Oct. 19.
SGA, the smallest Class AAA school in the state with a softball team, will play 2012 state runner-up Westfield at noon Saturday in the opening game of a double-elimination Final Four tournament. The last two teams standing will play a best-of-three state title series Oct. 19.
“These girls aren’t nervous (for the Final Four),” SGA coach Tommy Manry said. “They are all excited, especially the seniors I have had for four years. Everybody we see (in Dublin) is going to be good. There won’t be any weak sisters in the Final Four. But we have met the challenge so far. Every time the competition gets tougher, the girls play a little better.”
With ace Madison Ragan on the mound in Thursday’s Game 1, SGA survived with an 8-6 win, and then the Lady Warriors blew out Southland in Game 2, 17-1 in three innings.
Ragan, the reigning Herald Player of the Year, wasn’t her usual self in Game 1 and gave up three earned runs and six hits in seven innings. The three earned runs matched the total she had allowed in her nine previous outings.
Ragan finished the game with 10 strikeouts and improved to 10-0 on the mound and also was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Kendyl Carver was also 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Baylee Everson was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Allison Warren had one hit but knocked in three runs.
Southland was led by Dallas Nesmith, who hit a three-run double in the second inning to tie the game at 4-4. SGA, however, came back with two runs in the bottom of the second inning and never trailed again.
In the second game, SGA racked up 15 hits and was led by Brooke Hornsby (3-3, 4 RBIs), Warren (3-3, 2 RBIs), Braylie Blanton (3-3, 2 RBIs) and Everson (2-4, RBI). Warren threw all three innings, struck out four and allowed two hits.
Crisp overcomes injury, advances to Final Four
CORDELE — The Crisp Academy softball team lost ace Savannah Brown four pitches into Thursday’s GISA Class AA state quarterfinal series against Briarwood Academy to a possible season-ending hamstring injury, but the Lady Wildcats fought back to win a deciding Game 3 and punch their tickets to the Final Four for the third year in a row.
Crisp won the opening game, 10-2, but lost the second game, 11-0, which forced a winner-take-all Game 3. And behind senior Maddie Krause — who tossed a complete game and also went 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs — the Lady Wildcats cruised to an 8-3 win.
“(Thursday) was such an emotional roller coaster,” Crisp Academy coach Jodie Hayes said. “Savannah has been our rock for the past three years in terms of pitching the big games. It’s tough to see your starter go down before she even faces the second batter.”
Crisp advances to play Flint River Academy, the No. 1 team in Class AA, on Saturday in Dublin in the first game of a double-elimination, Final Four tournament. The last two teams remaining will advance to an Oct. 19 state championship series.
“We can’t harp on the injuries we have,” Hayes said. “We have to play (Saturday) with what we bring. I have said all year that this is probably the best defensive team I have ever fielded at Crisp Academy. We will just have to try to put runs on the board any way we can. We feel like defensively we can play with anybody.”
Crisp Academy, which was ousted in the Final Four the past two years, was led in Game 1 by pitcher Carson Tack, who also was 2-for-3 with an RBI at the plate. Also with top offensive games in the opener were Sidney Folsom (2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBIs) and Amanda Smith (2-4, 2 RBIs).
Lee County gets No. 3 seed
LEESBURG — Thomas County Central edged Lee County, 3-2, on Thursday in the Region 1-AAAAA softball tournament, knocking the Lady Trojans out of the bracket and handing them the No. 3 seed in next week’s state tournament.
The Lady Trojans (19-13) will play at the Region 3-AAAAA No. 2 seed — which will be the winner of a playoff between Richmond Hill and Effingham County — on Wednesday in the opening-round, best-of-three series.
On Thursday, Lee County fell behind 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth when TCC capitalized on an error, a hit batsman and two walks. The Lady Trojans scored once in the fifth on an Ashley Morris RBI single and again in the sixth on a Jamie McPherson RBI single, but that was all the scoring Lee could muster.
Lee County sophomore pitcher Danielle Davis threw all six innings and allowed four hits and two earned runs.