It’s been 10 years since the LaFayette Lady Ramblers have made an appearance in Columbus for the Elite Eight.
They are now just two wins away from ending that drought.
After several years of coming up short in the opening round of the playoffs, LaFayette finally got the first-round albatross off from around its neck as the Orange-and-Black sent visiting White County packing with a 4-1, 9-0 sweep in south Walker County on Wednesday.
In the opener, LaFayette spotted the Lady Warriors a run in the top of the first inning, but starting pitcher Ashton Stalling would work out of a bases-loaded jam later in the frame without further damage. LaFayette would get the run right back and took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning as Shelby Adkins delivered an RBI-triple and later came in to score.
The other two runs came in the bottom of the second inning on just two pitches. Sam Adkins belted the first pitch she saw from White County starter Reagan Dunagan for a double, while Carlee Corbin launched the next pitch over the fence for a two-run homer.
Dunagan's off-speed pitches would keep the Lady Ramblers off balance for the remainder of the game, but Stalling was even better. The senior scattered five hits and gave up just one walk in the complete-game victory. She finished the afternoon with two strikeouts.
LaFayette’s defense also came through with a timely 1-6-3 double play to end the third inning and prevent a rally.
Corbin and Sam Adkins had two hits each in the victory.
Dunagan got the call to toe the rubber again for the Lady Warriors in Game 2, but this time LaFayette was ready.
Playing as the visiting team in the nightcap, the Lady Ramblers got a gift with a run on a White County error in the top of the first. Three runs would come home in the second, one on a sacrifice fly by Marquila Howell and two on a single by Stalling.
Sophomore Railee Lynn would make her presence known in the third as she delivered a two-out, two-run homer to up the lead to 6-0 and Lynn would rip an RBI-double in the fifth as part of a three-run frame. Lynn came home on an RBI-single by Howell and Howell crossed the plate on Nicky Yancy’s run-scoring triple.
It was more than enough run support for Stalling, who also got the start again in the circle. Stalling gave up just three hits in the five-inning, run-rule victory, striking out three and not issuing a single walk.
Howell finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs in the Game 2 win, while Lynn was 2-for-2, scored three times and drove in three. Stalling helped herself with two hits.
LaFayette (16-8) will now await their second-round opponent. The Lady Ramblers will either host North Oconee next week or travel to face Region 5 champion and No. 1-ranked Chapel Hill.