After having their tournament opener rained out both Monday and Tuesday, the No. 6 Lady Lions (22-7) finally hit the field and made quick work of Jackson, Atlanta in a 15-0, three-inning affair to get things rolling on Wednesday and followed that up with a convincing, 8-1 victory over Callaway in the nightcap.
“Coming out in that first game, you really didn’t know what you were going to look like in that second game. But our kids, I was really proud of them. They came in and they had a good focus about them, a good energy about them. They worked hard in warm-ups. It paid off,” Central coach Jimmy LeBlanc said.
The Lady Lions are now set to square off with the No. 1 seed from the other sub-region, Chapel Hill (19-11), today at 6:30 p.m. at Central after the Lady Panthers knocked off Rockmart in Douglasville, 4-2. The winner of that game earns home field for the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs and moves into Friday’s championship game.
Central received a strong pitching effort from Taylor Funk on Wednesday, as the Lady Lion sophomore right-hander got the win in both games, firing a no-hitter and getting all nine of the outs she recorded via strikeouts against the Lady Jaguars and then followed that up with an 11-strikeout, two-hit effort against the Lady Cavs.
“I look at the second game more than I do that first game. You know, the first game is just basically being around the plate. But the second game, I mean, Callaway has been really coming on lately,” LeBlanc said. “But, yeah, it’s a good outing for [Funk]. I didn’t realize she had that many strikeouts in the second game.”
Against Callaway, the Lady Lions fell behind 1-0 in the opening inning before tying things up at 1-all in the second. Senior catcher Alison Jiles then gave Central the lead for good with a two-run single in the third inning to make it a 3-1 game.
Central tacked on two more runs in the fifth and busted the game open with the three-run sixth.
Aubrey Bennett was 2-for-3 with a walk, double, RBI and three runs scored, while Jiles (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI), Shena Chambers (2-for-3, run) and Hayley Sims (2-for-4, 2 runs) also had multiple-hit efforts against Callaway.
In the opener, the Lady Lions eased past Jackson, scoring six runs in the first, seven in the second and then getting the pair in the third for the mercy-rule victory.
Central had 12 hits in the game, led by freshman outfielder Cassie Griffin (3-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 runs). Also recording multiple-hit efforts were Jiles (2-for-2, BB, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI) and Logan Wood (2-for-2, SB, RBI, run).
Funk worked three hitless innings in the circle, walking one, hitting a batter and fanning nine, as not one Lady Jaguar hitter put the ball in play against the Lady Lion sophomore hurler.
Haralson County also kept its playoff hopes alive with a 17-0, three-inning win over Douglass on Wednesday in Douglasville. The Rebelettes can earn a trip to the state playoffs with a victory over Callaway today in a 3 p.m. elimination game at Central.
In other prep softball action from Wednesday:
Central Middle School 12, Carrollton 0: The Lady Lions (8-0) used a 12-run first inning to run away with the rivalry win, with Emily Williams going 2-for-2 and driving in three runs at the plate and also getting the win in the circle, fanning five.
Luci Grace McKenzie added a pair of hits for Central, while Abby Cook, Peyton Groves, Kayla Sales, Logan North and Faith Bennett all had one hit apiece.