GHSA

Three teams, all located within just a few miles of each other in the top corner of northwestern Georgia, all had designs on bringing home state fastpitch softball championships back from Columbus on Saturday.

Mother Nature had other plans.

Persistent rain hampered and eventually forced the state championship games in all but one classification to be suspended at approximately 4:10 p.m. Those games will resume on Monday with the teams who came out of the winners' bracket final hosting.

As a result, both Gordon Lee and Heritage will have the opportunity to capture state titles on their own home fields, while Ringgold will have to try and finish off its incredible elimination bracket run at Franklin County.

Following the suspension of Saturday's play, tournament officials had planned to wait three hours before crews would attempt to try and make the fields playable. However, another round of rain moved into the area at around 6 p.m. and the decision to finish the games on Monday was handed down approximately 30 minutes later.

Gordon Lee was leading rival Trion, 6-1, in the bottom of the sixth inning when play was halted. The game is set to resume at 5 p.m. on Monday. Gordon Lee will have bases loaded with one out and Kirbie Bradley at the plate set to face Lady Bulldog relief pitcher Aubrey Blake, who had just entered the game to pitch when play with stopped.

Should Trion rally and win the game, they would have to defeat the Lady Trojans a second time later on Monday night. A Gordon Lee victory would give them a fifth consecutive state championship and mark the Lady Trojans' 10th fastpitch title overall since 2004, tying them with Buford for the most all-time in GHSA history.

Defending Class 4A state champion Heritage will find itself in a 3-3 deadlock with Marist in the top of the seventh inning when its game is resumed Monday at 5 p.m. in Boynton.

The Generals, the visiting team in the game, will have runners at first and third and nobody out with Madeline Stone coming to the plate.

Heritage had just tied the game when play was halted. Zoe Wright drew a walk and moved to third base on a Riley Kokinda double. Wright would come racing home after Marist dropped a pop-up on the infield, which also moved Kokinda to third.

A win on Monday would give Heritage its second consecutive state title, while a loss would force a second championship game later that evening.

Ringgold will be ahead 7-5 in the top of the fifth inning when play resumes at Franklin County at 4:30 p.m. on Monday. Addi Broome will be at the plate and facing a 1-0 count with two outs and Ava Raby standing at third base.

The Lady Tigers had surrendered three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to fall behind, 5-2, but they would plate five runs in the top of the fifth. One scored on a Baileigh Pitts double while Jade Gainer and Raby made Franklin County pay for pair of walks with back-to-back, two-run hits.

Should Ringgold finish off the game with a victory, they will have to beat Franklin County a second time later Monday evening to win its first state title since 2005.

Only one state champion was crowned on Saturday as Mount de Sales beat the rain and defeated Wesleyan to claim the Class A Private School crown.

Ringgold 8, Calhoun 7

The Blue-and-White opened Saturday with a dramatic win over region rival Calhoun in an elimination game.

The Lady Jackets took advantage of an outfield breeze to hit five homeruns over the first three innings to go on top, 7-1. Pitts hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning and Riley Nayadley connected on a two-run shot in the third inning, but the Lady Tigers left the bases loaded in the fourth.

However, Shelby Cole singled in the fifth and would come running home on an RBI-double by Raby. Raby would later score on a fielder's choice by Broome to make it 7-5.

Then in the bottom of the seventh, Gainer singled and stole second base before Raby followed up with another single. Gainer would cross the plateĀ on a sacrifice bunt by Caroline Hemphill as courtesy runner Autumn Green moved all the way to third.

Broome would lay down a bunt single to bring home Green with the tying run and, following another bunt single by Taylor Layne, Amber Gainer would line a single to center to bring in Broome with theĀ game-winning run.

Ringgold pounded out 16 hits in the contest, three by Amber Gainer and two each by Pitts, Nayadley, Raby, Broome and Layne.

Kaylee Phillips started in the circle and gave up seven earned runs on eight hits over three innings. She struck out one batter before giving way to Taylor Thomas, who shut down Calhoun the rest of the way. Thomas got the win by pitching four scoreless innings of relief. She gave up just three hits and one walk and also struck out one batter.

Ringgold 6, Lovett 3

In the elimination bracket final later on Saturday, the Lady Tigers took down the Lady Lions to force their way into the state championship game picture.

A solo homerun by Pitts and a two-run shot by Cole, both in the first inning, staked Ringgold to a quick 3-0 lead.

Lovett would eventually tie the game, but the Lady Tigers would pick up a solo run in the fifth inning and two more in the seventh as they went on to the victory.

Nayadley was 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, while Cole had three RBIs in the game. Amber Gainer went 2-for-4 and Phillips picked up the victory in the circle. She allowed nine hits and two walks in seven innings, but gave up just one earned run and finished with three strikeouts.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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