Some fourth-seeded teams come in the state playoffs just happy to have made the field, but for the Gilmer Lady Bobcats, that wasn't the case in their Class AAA opening-round series.
Gilmer, the Region 7 champion, got matched up against arguably the best No. 4 seed in the field in defending state champion Ringgold and the Blue-and-White let it be known that they do not intend to give up their title reign without a fight as they swept the series, 6-3 and 9-1, Tuesday night in Ellijay.
Ringgold (19-9) will be on the road again for the second round of the playoffs later this week at Region 8, No. 3 seed Hart County, who took down Region 5 runner-up Westminster, 5-2 and 9-1.
Ringgold 6, Gilmer 3
The Lady Tigers got seven solid innings in the circle from Alyissa Sue as they doubled up the Lady Bobcats in the opening game of the best-of-three series.
Sue scattered eight hits and gave up just two earned runs. She struck out seven batters and did not issue a single walk.
Riley Nayadley got things going for the Lady Tigers with a solo homer in the top of the first inning and Baileigh Pitts delivered an RBI-double in the second.
The homerun derby would continue in the fifth as Amber Gainer led off the inning with a solo shot to increase Ringgold's lead to 4-2. Moments later, after a Nayadley single, Jade Gainer belted a two-run shot to add to the lead even more.
Nayadley and Jade Gainer finished with two hits and two runs scored apiece, while Caroline Hemphill chipped in with a single in the victory.
Ringgold 9, Gilmer 1
The Lady Tigers, playing as the home team in the nightcap, pounded out 13 hits, including a 3 for 3 performance from Jade Gainer, as they capped the sweep.
Down a run early, Ringgold took the lead in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI-single by Taylor Layne and a sacrifice bunt by Addi Broome. One inning later, Amber Gainer would deliver a two-out triple before scoring on a single by Nayadley. Following a Gilmer error, Nayadley would trot home on an RBI-single by Jade Gainer.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, the first three batters successfully reached base before the Lady Bobcats were able to get the first out on a force at home. Undaunted, Pitts delivered a two-run single and, one batter later and with two runners in scoring position, Amber Gainer sent a pitch to right field and motored all the way around for a walk-off, inside the park, three-run homer to end the game and the series.
Layne and Pitts had two hits each, while Broome and Autumn Green each came through with singles. Layne pitched six innings, giving up one earned run on five hits and two walks. She finished with four strikeouts.
Ringgold's sweep capped a big night for Region 6 against Region 7. Region 6 champion Coahulla Creek powered past North Hall, 8-0 and 13-1. Runner-up Sonoraville scored 5-0 and 7-3 wins against White County, while No. 3 seed Rockmart swept Lumpkin County, 12-2 and 8-5.