Top-ranked Pierce County turned back Appling County with a pair of one-run victories to claim the Region 1-AAA title in the double elimination tournament.
PCHS (17-5) stretched its season-best winning streak to seven games with the last three coming in the region tourney. The Lady Bears opened with an 8-0 victory Tuesday, October 6, over then 10th-ranked Tattnall County.
They followed with a 5-4, 8-inning win Thursday, October 8, over Appling County in the winners’ bracket finals and secured the championship trophy with a 3-2 victory in the championship game.
Pierce County, which went 11-0 against region competition including the tournament, notched a pair of one-run victories over the Lady Pirates during the regular season. PCHS won 3-2 at home back on August 25 and 2-1 in Baxley on September 15.
The region title is the fourth in five years for the Lady Bears, who finished second to Brantley County last season.
Pierce County will open the state tournament hosting Region 4 fourth-seed Burke County. The best-of-three series is scheduled to begin Monday, October 19.
No times have been released.
In other Region 1 vs. Region 4 matchups, Appling County will entertain third-seed Thomson; third-seed Brantley County travels to second-seed Morgan County; Tattnall County visits top-seed Harlem, who is ranked fifth in the latest poll.
No. 1 Lady Bears 3
Appling County 2
Natalee Herrin scattered eight hits over seven innings and powered the offense with an RBI triple and a sacrifice fly.
The Lady Bears managed just three hits off Appling County starting pitcher Emily Bass, but made the most of them as they took a 3-0 lead and held on
Two of the Pierce County hits were for extra bases when Herrin and Natalie Sullivan both stroked triples. Natalee Griffin was the only other Lady Bear to hit safely.
Pierce County took the lead for good with a run in the first inning. Makayla Pitts walked to open the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out to shortstop by Griffin. Herrin (1-for-2) then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to plate the game’s first run.
The Lady Bears made it 3-0 in the third inning. The bases were empty with two out when Pitts walked and stole second and third. Griffin (1-for-3) singled up the middle to score Pitts and came around to score the Lady Bears’ final run on Herrin’s triple to center.
Appling County cut the lead to one run in the sixth inning and had the tying run in scoring position. Herrin induced an inning-ending popout to short to end the threat. She finished with six strikeouts and two walks in her third consecutive complete game.
Winner’s bracket finals
No. 1 Lady Bears 5
Appling County 4, 8 Inn.
Griffin’s one-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning drove home Pitts with the game-winning run.
Pitts (4-for-4) blasted a one-out double, stole third and raced home on Griffin’s (2-for-4) infield hit.
Pierce County had taken a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning, but Appling scored twice to force the extra frame.
Herrin allowed 10 hits in eight innings, but was able to mitigate the damage by striking out eight Appling County batters.
In contrast to the tight pitching duel that followed, Game 1 was a relative slug fest as the two teams combined for 25 hits.
Pierce County outhit the Lady Pirates 15-10 led by Pitts’ performance. Griffin, Natalie Sullivan, Reagan Larson and Tivona Myles each added a pair of singles for PCHS while Rebecca Deloach, Kylie Alllen and Madison Pickett also hit safely.
Appling took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Lady Bears tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Pitts stole home for the third time in the last three games.
She led off with an opposite field bloop single, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Griffin (2-for-4), moved to third on an error off a ball hit by Herrin. Pitts and Herrin executed a delayed double steal to tie the game.
The Lady Pirates retook the lead with a two-out, run-scoring hit in the second inning. Pierce County went in front 3-2 scoring two runs after two outs in the fourth.
Singles by Allen (1-for-3), Sullivan (2-for-4) and Larson (2-for-4) loaded the bases with one out. After Myles (2-for-3) popped out to second for the second out, Pitts and Griffin hit back-to-back, two-out singles to give the Lady Bears their first lead.
Pierce County made it 4-2 in the sixth inning when Larson singled, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Myles, and scored on Pitts double to left field.
The Lady Bears were one out away from victory when Appling County tied the game on Lacey Lee’s two-out, two-run homer on a 1-1 pitch sending the game into extra innings. The inning had been extended with two errors by the Lady Bears.
No. 1 Lady Bears 8
No. 10 Tattnall County 0
Herrin shut down Tattnall County on four hits and went 3-for-3 with a double to lead No. 1 ranked Pierce County past the 10th-ranked Lady Warriors.
Deloach (1-for-4) slugged her team-leading ninth home run.
Pitts had two hits for the Lady Bears, both for extra bases as she doubled and tripled and drove in two runs.
Allen (1-for-3), Pickett (1-for-2), Sullivan (1-for-3) and Myles (1-for-3) also hit safely for the Lady Bears who outhit Tattnall County 10-4 and played error less defense. The Lady Warriors committed two defensive miscues.
Herrin was in control all the way as she struck out 10 Tattnall County batters and walked none. She threw 60 of her 88 total pitches for strikes and only allowed one base runner past first base.
The Lady Bears got all the runs they would need by scoring twice in the first inning. After Pitts led off with a walk, Griffin advanced her to second with a sacrifice bunt and Herrin doubled to center field to drive Pitts in.
A one-out single by Allen put runners at first and third. Pickett delivered a two-out single to left increasing the lead to 2-0.
PCHS added three more runs in the second inning. After Larson walked and Myles reached on a bunt single to open the inning, Pitts stroked a two-run triple to right doubling the advantage to 4-0. Pitts successfully stole home for the first of her two times in the game to make it 5-0.
Pitts led off the Pierce County fourth with a double, advanced to third on an error and stole home with one out for a 6-0 advantage. The Lady Bears closed out the scoring in the sixth inning when Herrin singled with two out and Deloach followed with a line drive to center for a two-run homer.