A year after failing to win a region or area title and advance to the state tournament for the first time since the program started in 1996, the Warriors defeated Ringgold 3-1 to bring back the glory days.
“They’re wasn’t any doubt in my mind we were going to win,” Coach Chip Liner said. “But there wasn’t any doubt in my mind last year either. It was
just an unfortunate situation.”
Ringgold had eliminated LFO in the region last year and ended the Warriors string of consecutive state tournament appearances.
But LFO got a strong pitching performance from Ashley Willmon on Saturday and now advances to state sectional competition at Lost Mountain Park near Marietta this Friday and Saturday.
“It’s only going to get harder from here,” Liner said. “But I’m confident with the way we’re playing right now. If we continue to play together as a team, we’ll get there.”
LFO will look for help from seniors Tootie Johnson, Fallon Lowery, Ashley Willmon and Mandi Harvey and junior pitcher Katie Speiser.
“We’ve said all year we want to win the state,” Johnson said. “Everybody on our team from the seniors down understands what we’ve got to do to get there.”
Ringgold will advance to the sectionals as the region’s second seed, with third-seeded Woodland and fourth-seeded Southeast Whitfield.
The state tournament is the following weekend in Columbus.
Ringgold finished third in last year’s state tournament and is determined to make another run.
“Our motto this year hasn’t changed,” Tigers catcher Jennifer Holland said. “We have ‘unfinished business.’ We want to go to the state and we want to finish first.”
Freshmen pitcher Stephanie Templeton will be in her first high school state tournament.
“I don’t know what it feels like to go to the state tournament,” she said. “But I know we have some unfinished business from last year. We won’t settle for third again.”
Ringgold Coach Hazel Brown has relied on the young arms of Templeton and freshmen partner Brittany Hendon this year while last year’s ace Melissa Hendon was nursing an injury.
The hard throwing junior has been limited this season due to rotator cuff injury in her throwing arm, Ringgold Coach Hazel Brown said.
“Melissa is getting there,” Holland said. “She’s still not 100 percent, but it feels good catching her again. We need her to win, but we also need Brittany and Stephanie.”
Ringgold will also seek leadership from seniors Amanda Chambers and Alisha Brock.
“We’ve had a great season,” Brown said. “I’m confident in the way the girls are playing. But it won’t be a heartbreaker not to advance to the state.”
LFO wins 3-1 in
LFO jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the championship game. Lowery singled to right field and Katie Speiser dropped a sacrifice bunt to move her to second. Johnson scored Lowery with a single.
“When Fallon scored the first run, we as a team felt like the game was ours,” Liner said.
The Warriors added their final two runs in the third on a
two-out, two-run single to left, scoring Johnson and Tiffany Qualls.
Ringgold scored it’s only run in the fourth after singles from Holland and Melissa Hendon. Ashley Allgood then ripped a run-scoring double to right-center to score Holland.
The Warriors defense played well behind Willmon who used her bag of tricks to keep Ringgold off guard.
The road to victory
LFO and Ringgold busted open the Region 7-AAAA tournament by both capturing wins each on Monday, Oct. 14.
LFO defeated rival Dalton 4-1 behind the pitching of Speiser and Ringgold downed Hiram 5-0.
All games were canceled due to heavy rains on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Thursday, the Warriors erupted once more smashing East Paulding 10-0.
Ringgold had an impressive performance the same night in a 2-0 win over powerful Woodland.
LFO and Ringgold met for the first time in the tourney on Friday. The Warriors defeated the Tigers 4-0 after scoring three runs in the first.
Ringgold defeated Woodland, 5-0, on Saturday morning before facing LFO in the finals