High School Softball
Lady Vikings blank pair of opponents
by Doug Gorman
COLUMBUS —The Northgate Lady Vikings put themselves in the driver’s seat Thursday night at the Class AAAAA Elite 8 with mercy-victories over both Creekview and Loganville.
Northgate faces Houston County at 7 p.m. tonight., with the winner advancing to Saturday’s championship game in the double-elimination tournament.
Northgate simply dominated both Creekview and Loganville in back-to-back 8-0 and 12-0 victories, neither of which went the full seven innings.
The softball program is trying to join the Northgate girls soccer team in bringing home the school’s second state title in a span of just over five months.
The Lady Vikings won state softball titles in 2011 and 2007, both under head coach Lisa Skelton.
And they certainly looked capable of bringing home a third GHSA championship trophy back to Newnan during Thursday’s opening games.
Northgate powered its way to the two victories getting home runs from Jenna Pealor in both games. Her two-run homer in the top of the first against Loganville gave the squad a 2-0 lead and they poured on the runs from there.
Against Loganville, Northgate added five more runs in the top of the third when Carly Alderman drove in Rachel Cook.
Ebonee Echols’ grand slam turned into the big blow in the inning.
“I think this is the best we have played all year,” Pealor said. “This is something we have wanted and worked hard for all year. We are confident that we are going to comeback with the same intensity tonight.”
Senior pitcher McKenzie Peace picked up the shutout victories needing just five innings in the first game four in the second game to help her team advance.
“What is awesome is we were able to save our pitcher, “ Northgate head coach Lisa Skelton said. “She didn’t have to pitch a full game, and what this means is if we keep this up, it will make it more difficult for others we are going to face.”
The victory over Loganville avenges last year’s 2-1 loss to them here at the Elite 8.
“I remember it well,” Skelton said.
Houston advanced to the winner’s bracket game by knocking off Pope.
“Houston is very good, so we are going to have to stay focused,” Skelton said.
Pealor led the way with a 5-for-5 performance with five RBIs.
“Anybody can step up on any given day,” Skelton said. “Right now, it is Jenna and Ebonee, but it can be anybody.”
Against Creekview, Northgate pounded out eight hits and scored at least one run in every inning.
Pealor’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth put the exclamation point on the Lady Vikings victory and kept them in the winners’ bracket against Loganville.
Peace allowed just five hits in en route to the win. She finished the game with three strikeouts, with one coming in the fourth and two in the fifth.
The senior pitcher also had some stellar defense behind her, as Pealor showed could speak with her glove as well as her bat.
Northgate’s third baseman snagged line drive and threw on to first for the double play in the third. Brittany Futral also threw out a batter in the inning to end the threat.
Brenna Skalski went 3-for-3 with an RBI and Echols went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI in the first game.
Northgate sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning and broke it open with three runs in the first including two on an RBI hit by senior shortstop Casey Kent.
Echols’ double in the second helped Northgate bring two runs across the plate.
The Lady Vikings picked up some offensive support from the bottom of the order in the third helped push the lead to 7-0.
Pealor led off the fourth with her home run to give the Lady Vikings enough for the mercy rule.
In the top of the fifth, Creeksville put runners on with a single and a walked, but Peace got out of the inning with two strikeouts of her three strikeouts.