The LaFayette Lady Ramblers are two victories away from returning to Columbus for the first time since 2019 when they were in Class AAAA.
LaFayette, the No. 2 seed from Region 6, opened up the Class AAA state playoffs by sweeping a doubleheader against East Jackson in south Walker County on Wednesday night.
The Lady Ramblers (16-10) now move on to the Round of 16 where they will play at Region 4 champion Harlem (24-3) with the winner of the three-game series advancing to the Elite Eight.
LaFayette 7, East Jackson 1
The visitors pushed home a run in the top of the first inning, but got nothing else as LaFayette took a 2-1 lead after the third inning before blowing the game open with five late runs.
The Orange-and-Black tied the game on an East Jackson error in the top of the second before Olivia Acuff belted a solo homer in the third to give her team the lead for good.
Olivia Free added to the lead with a two-run shot in the fifth, and Suki Williams delivered an RBI-single later in the frame. Then in the sixth, Jaselyn Couch and Ashlynn Melvin both scored on wild pitches.
Acuff finished 3 for 3, while Couch, Haynie Jane Gilstrap, Macy Martin and Raven Yancy all had singles. Free struck out nine batters in seven innings. She allowed just two hits, while the run she gave up was unearned.
LaFayette 6, East Jackson 2
In the nightcap, LaFayette picked up 12 hits, four coming in the very first inning, as they took an early lead and never looked back.
Four singles, two East Jackson errors and a walk contributed to four runs for the Lady Ramblers in the first. Gilstrap knocked in a run with a single, while Williams brought in two with a base hit.
The Lady Eagles answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, but LaFayette got a run back in the fourth before picking up its final run in the seventh. Acuff doubled and stole third in the fourth before scoring on an RBI-single by Free, and Williams singled in the seventh and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Ava Brown was the benefactor of the run support. She allowed just the two earned runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings and finished with four strikeouts.
Free and Williams each went 3 for 4. Acuff and Gilstrap each went 2 for 4, while Yancy and Summer Burkett each came through with a single.