The Gordon Lee Lady Trojans rarely, if ever, find themselves in the middle of an offensive slugfest, but that's exactly where they found themselves Friday night before pulling out a 12-9, eight-inning victory over Commerce in the winners' bracket final.
But rather than try to just put it behind them, Gordon Lee used it as an opportunity to learn.
And when they faced those same Lady Tigers in a rematch for the Class A Public School state championship on Saturday afternoon, the Lady Trojans were more than prepared as they methodically wore down their opponents for an 8-2 victory in Columbus.
The win gave Gordon Lee six consecutive state titles and 10 state titles in the past 11 seasons. Add-on their first state championship in 2004 and Gordon Lee's 11th all-time fastpitch state crown set a new GHSA record, breaking a tie with Buford for the most fastpitch state titles in state history.
"It's pretty cool," said Dana Mull, the 18-year veteran head coach whose teams have played in the championship game of its classification in each of the last 15 seasons. "It's just a tribute to all the great teams I've been able to be a part of, but they're all just as special as the others. It is pretty awesome to see 11 state championships."
Gordon Lee took advantage of a pair of Commerce errors in the top of the first inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Emma Minghini had an RBI-single while the other run scored on one of the errors.
Then in the top of the second, two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Minghini drove in another run with a ground out before Allie Farrow laced a two-run single, increasing the GL lead to 5-0.
Back-to-back doubles by Ashlyn Schmidt and Minghini in the top of the fourth put another run on the board and Anniston Hudson would make it 7-0 with a solo homer to lead off the fifth inning.
The Lady Tigers got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Farrow accounted for the final run of the season for the Lady Trojans with a one-out solo shot in the top of the sixth.
Emma Langston had three of Gordon Lee's 15 hits in the game. Minghini and Farrow each finished with two hits and three RBIs. Sturdivant, Schmidt, Hudson and Jordan Dyer each finished with two hits.
Minghini pitched seven strong innings in her final career start for the Lady Trojans. The future Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket allowed just two earned runs on two hits with three walks with five strikeouts.
"I think we were focused a little bit more (today), not that we weren't focused (Friday night)," Mull explained. "But we knew we had to come ready to go today. I think everybody was just mentally ready to go. We made some changes on how we were pitching each of them because we had plenty of notes on each batter after that long game last night, so we were able to take the time and change some of how we were pitching them and we made some defensive adjustments. Plus, Emma threw really, really well today."
Gordon Lee ended its season with a 34-3 record, having won its final 25 games in a row. The Lady Trojans' only losses this year came to Woodland of Cartersville (6-2), who made the Elite Eight in Class AAAAA, and Northwest Whitfield (1-0), a playoff participant in Class AAAA. Both losses came in the first week of the season back in mid-August, while a 3-2 setback against eventual Class AA champion Heard County happened in a tournament game in Carrollton on Sept. 11.
"This team worked really, really hard and improved so much over the course of a year and have really come together," Mull added. "Looking from the first game to the last, we definitely got a lot better and we've come a long way this year."