GRIFFIN, Ga. -- The Lady Bulldogs of Thomson High School have a big goal in mind this week: Win the Georgia Class AAA Girls' Softball State Championship.
Now one of only eight teams remaining in their classification, Thomson began final-round playoffs in Columbus on Thursday.
"This is something we want badly," said Thomson second baseman/pitcher Brooke Herkel shortly after stepping off a bus at THS last Saturday night. "We're going after it."
She was one of the star players in the latest series against Spalding County -- the Lady 'Dogs sweeping the Lady Jaguars by scores of 10-2 in Game No. 1 and 9-2 in Game No. 2 earlier last Saturday.
The Lady Bulldogs of head coach Jason Osborn and assistant coaches Bennie Hester and Katie Sutherland were to have played Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe of Atlanta in the first game on Thursday. The playoffs are now single games in the double-elimination state playoffs.
Herkel was the winning pitcher in the first game and bounced right back to work the sixth and seventh innings as relief pitcher for Game 2 starting pitcher Maegan Bentley, who also did an exceptional job. Bentley fired a three-hitter, struck out one and gave up no walks in five complete innings.
In going the distance in the first game, Herkel yielded only three hits, while striking out one, walking three and hitting one batter.
Thomson tagged Spalding County for five runs in the top of the first inning of Game No. 1. They then scored another run in the top of the fifth to increase their lead to 6-0. In the seventh, Thomson tallied four more runs to put the game basically out of reach.
Spalding County, meanwhile, scored their only two runs of the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Thomson's Heather Shivers went 3-for-4 with a double, a pair of singles and scored a run. She was followed by teammates: Hannah Wilson, 0-for-3 and scored a run; Herkel, 1-for-3 with a double, 2 RBI and who scored a run; Jada Lawson, 1-for-2 with a single and who scored three runs; Hannah Pereda, 2-for-3 with a single and a three-run home run over the center field fence in the top of the seventh inning; Natasha Seals, 2-for-4 with two singles, a RBI and who scored a run; and Chelsea Reeves, 1-for-3 with a single and 2 RBI.
In Game No. 2, Spalding attempted to make it a game by going up 2-0 with a single run in both the first and third innings. Thomson came right back in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs to knot the score at 2-2. The Lady Bulldogs scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth and added six more runs in an explosive offensive outburst in the sixth.
Thomson was able to claim the lead for the first time in the game on a solo home run by junior shortstop Hannah Wilson. The homer sailed over the right field fence and provided the Lady Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.
"That was a big blow," said coach Hester of Wilson's homer. "It just seemed to have taken something out of Spalding County then."
Several Thomson players had a good day at the plate. They included: Shivers, 1-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI; Wilson, 2-for-3 with a home run and a single, scored three times and drove in a run; Herkel, 2-for-3 with a double and a single, 3 RBI and two runs scored -- one of which was scored by courtesy runner Brea Boutwell; Lawson, 1-for-1 with a RBI single; Pereda, 1-for-3 with a single; and Seals, 1-for-1 with a single.