LOCUST GROVE — The Darton State College softball team is one win away from a trip to the NJCAA national tournament.
The 13th-ranked Lady Cavs clinched a spot in today’s Region XVII state championship game with a 5-1 victory Friday against ABAC, which was Darton’s 18th straight win dating back to March 21.
Darton left runners on base in the first two innings but finally broke through in the third with a five-run rally. Lead-off hitter Sierra Newman started the third-inning scorefest with a walk and was driven home by an Emily Church double. The Lady Cavs then got a pair of two-run homers from Jordan Allen and Jostlyn Higgerson.
While Darton’s offense was lighting up the scoreboard, Lady Cavs starter Sommar Wright was keeping ABAC’s bats quiet. Wright, who threw all seven innings, allowed five hits and struck out five. She had her shutout broken up in the top of the ninth by a solo home run.
The Lady Cavs will have their first crack at a state title at 1 p.m. today against the survivor from the loser’s bracket. If they lose, they will play again at 3 p.m. in a winner-take-all championship game.
Albany State softball stays alive
The Albany State softball team fell into the loser's bracket early Friday with a 9-3, second-round loss to Tuskegee, but the Lady Rams bounced back with two straight victories to advance to the SIAC tournament semifinals today against Claflin.
The winner between ASU and Claflin will advance to the championship at 2 p.m. to face Tuskegee.
After Friday morning's loss, the Lady Rams responded with a 10-0 win against Stillman and then ousted Benedict later in the evening, 13-5.
In ASU’s first game against Tuskegee, the Lady Rams pulled ahead 1-0 in the first inning, but Tuskegee piled on four runs in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back.
All nine of Tuskegee’s runs were unearned thanks to six Albany State errors. ASU starter Alexa Lopez took the loss after allowing nine hits and striking out four.
At the plate for ASU, Domonique Bryant and Chelsea Hicks both had two hits, while Toni Coleman was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Malea Maye got the Lady Rams’ only other hit.
Albany State baseball advances to semifinals
The ASU baseball team survived a wild, back-and-forth game against Miles in an SIAC tournament elimination game and then routed Kentucky State late Friday in another win-or-go-home matchup to advance to today's semifinals.
The No. 1 seed Rams are fighting back from the loser’s bracket after falling in Wednesday’s opening-round game to Kentucky State, and they stayed alive early Friday with a 12-9 victory.
After a long break Friday, the Rams then advanced to today's semifinals with a 14-1, seven-inning victory against Kentucky State in a game that didn't end until after midnight.
In the Rams' win against Miles, ASU scored four in the first inning and led 7-1 heading into the sixth inning, which was when Miles found its offensive power. The Bears scored three runs in the sixth and five runs in the seventh to cut ASU’s lead to 10-9 — but the Rams tacked on a run in each the seventh and eighth innings and held Miles scoreless the rest of the way to escape with the victory.
Allen Fender, a former Worth County standout, started for the Rams and allowed nine hits and four runs, while reliever Sam Fielding was on the mound when Miles staged its comeback. Fielding gave up four hits and five runs in less than an inning of work. Theo Tramontana closed the game out, throwing 2 1/3 innings and allowing just one hit.
Former Westover star Jacob Campbell (4-5, 4 RBI) and Ryan Latner (1-4, 3 RBI) led ASU at the plate.
Clifford Peterson threw all seven innings in the victory against Kentucky State, allowing four hits and one run.
Campbell was the star at the plate again with a game-high three RBIs. Latner and Sable Gilliard each had two RBIs.
The Rams play at noon today against Stillman, and a victory would send ASU into the championship game against Tuskegee at 3 p.m.