Prep Softball: Early losses have ECHS, Northgate facing eliminationBy DOUG GORMAN
COLUMBUS — The Georgia High School Association Elite 8 softball tournament is a double-elimination format.
Northgate and East Coweta are sure glad following Thursday’s opening round.
Northgate, which is trying to win its second straight state title, fell to Loganville 4-3 in eight innings, while East Coweta lost to Lassiter 8-0 in a five-inning, mercy-rule contest.
Both teams now must win six games over the next two days in a row to capture a state title.
• Loganville 4, Northgate 3
One year after winning the state softball championship, Northgate has some work to do if it hopes to add another piece of hardware to the school’s trophy case.
The Lady Vikings put their backs to the wall at the Class AAAAA Elite 8 with a contest settled by the international tie-breaker.
Northgate seemed in control early in its game against Loganville, but one swing changed the momentum.
With the Lady Vikings leading 2-0, Loganville third baseman Rose Schmidt ripped a towering line drive over the fence in the top of the sixth inning for a game-tying homer.
Loganville kept its momentum going in the eighth inning with two runs. Morgan Puckett drove in both of the runs with her base hit.
The Lady Vikings closed to within a run when Ebonee Echols scored on Katie Burns’ sacrifice fly.
Jenna Pealor ripped a two-out triple for the Lady Vikings, but the game ended when Loganville pitcher Morgan Britt dug down deep and came up with just her third strikeout of the game.
Northgate built a 1-0 lead when lead off-lead off hitter Brenna Skalski reached on an error and later scored.
Echols gave Northgate a 2-0 lead with her run in the third. She walked and later scored when Burns sacrificed her home.
Northgate must now come all the way out of the loser’s bracket starting today at 11 a.m. against Greenbrier if it hopes to bring home another title.
“We really hurt ourselves in that game,” Northgate head coach Lisa Skelton said. “We gave up the long ball and just let them back in the game. Now we have to decide if we wanted to come down here and play just two games or we want to go as far as we can.”
• Lassiter 8, East Coweta 0
East Coweta head coach Franklin DeLoach was quick to point out Thursday night that softball is a game of momentum — or as DeLoach calls it, “Mr. Mo”.
After three innings, momentum totally shifted to the Lady Trojans and East Coweta never recovered.
East Coweta pitcher Megan Chocallo struck out a batter in the first and Katie Lynch had a base hit for the Lady Indians in the second, but Lassiter pitcher Mackenzie Kayler pitched out of the inning.
The Lady Indians’ biggest chance to score came in the third when Lauren Liebe connected on a base hit, went to second on Katelyn Bedrosian’s sacrifice. After a ground ball for the second out, Liebe went to third with two outs.
Again Kayler pitched the Lady Trojans out of the inning.
“Granted, it would have taken a two-out hit to get Liebe to score, but that might have changed things around, and Mr. Mo would have been sitting in our dugout for a little while,” Franklin DeLoach said. “You have to give them credit. They came through when they had to.”
The Lady Trojans took control of the game for good with three runs in the bottom of the third.
Lassiter then struck for five more runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the contest with the big blow coming on Kelly Sinclair’s RBI double.
It was East Coweta’s first loss in 26 tries. The Lady Indians are playing in the Elite 8 for the eighth straight time, but the team has never won a state title.
The Lady Indians play their first loser’s bracket game at 11 a.m. today against Hillgrove.