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Bulldogs advance in hunt for title

It's two down and several games to go before the Thomson High School Lady Bulldogs arrive where they want to be -- Columbus, Ga. -- vying for a state championship.

They passed the first big hurdle in their title quest by sweeping the visiting Americus Lady Panthers at the Thomson field in the first-round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAA girls' softball state playoffs last Wednesday. In Game 1, the Lady Bulldogs won 10-1 in a five inning game. They also won Game 2 of the best-of-three game series 13-0 in just four innings.

Thomson started second-round play against Locust Grove on home turf again Wednesday. Game 3, if necessary, would be played today (Thursday) beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Thomson head coach Jason Osborn said he was pleased his team won first-round games over Americus, but was a little disappointed in how his team performed offensively in Game 1.

"We just didn't adjust very well at the plate in the first game," lamented coach Osborn immediately after his Lady Bulldogs ended Americus' season by winning Game 2. "We hit the ball a little better in the second game. That was pleasing."

The Lady Bulldogs were limited to just five hits in Game 1 by Americus pitcher Savannah Melton, a junior.

Americus head coach Coleman Price, whose team finished the season 7-24, said he was pleased with Melton being able to limit hits.

"I thought she did a good job in that area," said coach Price.

Her downfall was control.

She walked a total of 12 Thomson batters -- seven of which eventually scored.

Coach Price, whose team earned a spot in the state playoffs for the first time in five years, said prior to the games being played against Thomson that his team would need to play "flawless" if they were to have any chance.

The Thomson coach, meanwhile, kept encouraging his team every inning in each game.

"Set back and drive it (ball)," coach Osborn told his players as they prepared to bat in the bottom of the second inning of Game 1.

Americus scored their only run in either contest during the top of the first inning of Game 1.

The run scored after Thomson junior pitcher Brooke Herkel handled the first two batters herself -- the first by strikeout and the second one on a catch of a pop-out. Chelsie Brown then singled and stole second base and eventually scored when Chelsea Toms lined a RBI single down the right field line.

Herkel didn't let that run bother her. She came right back to finish strong in that game and pitched the Thomson team to victory in the four-inning second game, too. Herkel struck out six batters in the first game, walked two and yielded just two hits.

In the second game, Herkel fired a three-hitter. She fanned seven batters and gave up no walks.

Thomson bounced back in the bottom of the first inning and scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead. They never had to look back.

Senior shortstop Hannah Wilson led off with a walk and later stole second and third bases before she scored on a pass ball. Sophomore third baseman Jadah Lawson later walked and scored on a RBI single to centerfield by catcher Haley Poss.

The Lady Bulldogs scored twice in each the second and third innings to increase their lead to 6-1.

In the second inning, senior centerfielder Shannon Chalker led off with an infield hit. She stole second base and moved to third on a pass ball. Leftfielder Khadeja Fanning followed with another walk. They both scored on RBI walks to Herkel and Poss.

Thomson senior first baseman Caitlin Carpenter scored, as did Fanning in the third innings. Carpenter walked and scored when Fanning smashed a RBI double down the leftfield line. Wilson later drove Fanning home with her version of a double into the left centerfield gap.

The Lady Bulldogs tallied their last four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on a lone hit. The hit was delivered by Sharlette Farmer, a senior, who drilled a two-run double into the left centerfield gap. Four players scored during that outburst, which ultimately ended the game due to the run limit. Those scoring the runs included: Fanning, Wilson, Breanna Stevens and Kristian Marsh.

In the 13-0 victory in Game 2, Thomson erupted for 10 hits. The biggest hit of all was delivered by Hannah Wilson -- a three-run homer over the centerfield fence in the second inning. Wilson also drove in her fourth run of the game with an infield hit. Others getting hits in that game included: Herkel, a double; Haley Poss, a RBI single and double; Sharlette Farmer, a pair of RBI singles; Breanna Poss, a RBI single; Khadeja Fanning, a two run single and a sacrifice RBI; and second baseman Brea Boutwell, an infield single.

Web posted on Thursday, October 21, 2010

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