In the their opening game at the Columbus Softball Complex on Thursday, the Lady Eagles needed just five innings to knock off No. 9 Seminole County, 11-3. MZ went on to advance into the winner's bracket final with a 9-3 victory over Miller County later Thursday to assure itself of no less than a third-place finish.
Jayde Bradley pitched all five innings for MZ (22-12) in the first game and added a pair of RBI with her bat on a 1-for-3 performance at the plate. Jennifer Bagby added three RBI, while Jordan Crews was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Corrssia Perry added a triple and scored a pair of runs in the win.
"It was exciting. The first game we were the home team, got them three-up and three-down and then scored. From that point, we never looked back. That game we ended it in five innings — that was key. We were hitting the ball well and our defense made some great plays. After getting that one, the girls were on top of the world and they believed in themselves," MZ coach Millie Grimes said.
In the second game, it was Madison Logan putting the complete-game effort together in the circle for the win.
The Lady Eagles were able to get three runs in the first, but Miller County tied the game up at 3-all. Then MZ scored six unanswered runs for the 9-3 victory.
Crews had another solid game, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored, while Bagby and Perry scored two runs each. Madison Barrow, Destiny Traylor, Ashley Smith and Lexi Ackles all drove in runs, but it was Bradley who put in the big game. After bringing two runs home in the opener Thursday, the sophomore had a four-RBI performance in the nightcap, helping lead the Lady Eagles into Friday.
"We just knew we had to go back out and score runs and we did. They never got down at all. I think they feel it in their hearts and know they can win," Grimes said.
MZ will face No. 7 Georgia Military at 5 p.m. today in the winner's bracket final after the Lady Bulldogs upset top-ranked Gordon Lee. The winner of the matchup will move to Saturday to play for the state title, while the loser will have to win a game in the loser's bracket on Saturday to get back into title contention.
"Very good team, very good pitcher and very good catcher. Very comparable to Gordon Lee. Very solid. We're going to have to play good ball and keep doing what we're doing. They're a team that you can't make mistakes on. We'll just go out and play the best we can. If we do that, we can play with any of them. If we leave the door open just a tad, they'll push it open. They're one of those that are going to run and try to make things happen. We've got to shut it down," Grimes said.
One game stands between the Central High School softball team and a trip to the championship series after a strong showing on the first day.
The Lady Lions (30-7) took the opening game — 2-1 in nine innings — against Blessed Trinity before defeating Pike County, 10-6, in the second game.
The game against Blessed Trinity went scoreless through the first seven innings, forcing the teams to extras and the international tie-breaker.
In the top of the eighth, Hayley Sims brought Aubrey Bennett home, but Blessed Trinity answered. In the ninth, the Lady Lions got a run again, as Jordyn Scott scored on Logan Wood's RBI hit. Then Taylor Funk pitched her way out of a big jam in the bottom of the ninth.
An error put runners on the corners, but a groundout to short got the first out and a strikeout put Central one out away. After a walk loaded the bases, Funk induced a pop-up to end the game.
In the second game, the Central offense got going, scoring two runs in the second and third, four in the sixth and two more in the seventh on 13 hits and four Pike County errors in the four-run win.
"It's a pretty good day of softball for us," Central coach Jimmy LeBlanc said. "It was a situation where we hit the ball a little bit better and when they booted it around a bit, we took advantage. And at this level, that's exactly what you have to do. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon and we hung in there and just kept putting the ball in play and good things happened."
Central will face five-time defending state champions Buford for a spot in the final series today at 5 p.m.
A split on the first day of the tournament will force the Bremen High School softball team to face elimination today.
The Lady Blue Devils (24-8) defeated Jeff Davis, 4-0, in the opener behind a complete-game effort from sophomore hurler Summer Wallace, but fell to Dade County, 4-1, in the second game.
Bremen will take on the winner between Vidalia and Bacon County at 1 p.m. with elimination on the line.
Heard County also split on Thursday, knocking off Bacon County, 2-1, in its opening game before suffering a 9-3 loss to Wesleyan later that evening.
The Lady Braves (30-6) will play the winner of Jeff Davis and Harlem today at 1 p.m. in an elimination game.
Bremen coach Amy Pointer could not be reached for comment as of press time Thursday evening.
Mitch Sneed of the Douglas County Sentinel contributed to this story.