GHSA Elite 8 Softball
On to the finals: Northgate win away from title
by Chris Goltermann
COLUMBUS — Northgate’s softball team had to wait more than 24 hours between victories, but thanks to another quick win Friday night at the Class AAAAA Elite 8, the Lady Vikings are headed to the state finals following a 9-1 victory over Houston County in five innings. It kept just one local team standing in this year’s GHSA Elite 8 Tournament at the South Commons Complex after Newnan’s run at the Elite 8 ended with a 2-0 loss to Brookwood in Class AAAAAA.
Heavy rains early Friday pushed the day-two tournament schedule behind by several hours in both winners and losers’ brackets. What was originally scheduled to be a 7 p.m. start for Northgate, finally got underway around 10.
It didn’t matter, Northgate used a potent offense to beat the Lady Bears. Northgate has outscored its three opponents at the Elite 29-1, also knocking off Creekview 8-0 and Loganville (12-0) in games called by the mercy rule.
Against Houston County, Northgate broke on top with three runs in the first inning and five in the third to to seize the momentum. They added their final run in the bottom of the fourth.
Pitcher McKenzie Peace picked up her third victory at the Elite 8, holding the Lady Bears to just three hits and striking out one. The Lady Vikings’ senior pitcher gave up her only run of the game in the top of the fifth with her team already leading 9-0.
Casey Kent led Northgate’s eight-hit attack, finishing 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
Leadoff hitter Brenna Skalski ripped a triple and also drove in two runs.
MacKenzie McCloud and Jessica Houk also had RBIs.
Three players had hits for Houston County with Shaelin Brown’s double in the fifth accounting for the Lady Bears’ only run of the game.
The Lady Vikings, who are trying to win their third softball title and second since 2011, will have to wait until this morning’s loser’s bracket games to find out who they will play for the title.
Ola plays Pope at 9 a.m., with the winner moving on to battle Houston County for the right to face Northgate at 1 p.m.
A third-and-deciding game is scheduled for 3 p.m. should Northgate lose.
If Ola plays its way into the finals, it would mean a matchup between two Region 4-AAAAA teams. Northgate beat Ola during the regular season, but lost to them three times at the region tournament.
Brookwood 2, Newnan 0:It took a hot pitcher and a bit of rain to finally cool off Newnan’s softball bats on Friday at the Georgia High School Association Elite 8 Softball Tournament here at the South Commons Complex.
Unable to extend a rain-delayed second day of action even longer, the Lady Cougars were held to one hit in a 10-strikeout performance by Brookwood’s Amanda Alton in a 2-0 victory by the Lady Broncos that ended what could be a breakthrough season for Newnan’s program.
Making their first trip to the Elite 8 since 2010, a lineup that relied heavily on underclassmen, including junior pitcher Tori Loveless, en route to a 25-10 record, the Lady Cougars finally succumbed to a pair of state-ranked opponents from Gwinnett after advancing through the first-two rounds of the playoffs.
Loveless held Brookwood to just five hits on Friday, but the Lady Broncos (19-10) rode Alton’s impressive effort where she allowed only one Newnan runner to reach base more than once.
Sophomore leadoff hitter Maysen Willard walked three times against Alton and was the only Lady Cougar to reach third in a sixth-inning rally where Newnan put runners on first and third with one out after teammate Arden Jobe reached on an error. But senior shortstop Chacyie Goggins followed with a hard grounder to short that allowed Brookwood to turn an inning-ending double play, ending the threat.
“Our big bats just weren’t able to come through like they have this season,” said Newnan head coach Carrie Gilmore.
Both teams waited through a five-hour rain delay that turned a late-morning start into an evening game.
Loveless, however, stayed sharp while able to hold the Lady Broncos scoreless until the bottom of the fourth before breaking through on a bases-loaded walk with two outs.