GROVETOWN --- The Thomson High School Lady Dogs softball team fell to Harlem but rallied to defeat Lakeside as part of the Chick-Fil-A Fall Classic on Friday at Patriots Park.
In game one, Thomson fell to Harlem 13-0.
"Harlem's probably the toughest team we play in our region," head coach Ayasia Hampton said after the game. "The girls started out pretty good, but then we gave up some walks, and those led to a lot of runs by Harlem."
Starting pitcher Bryanna Neal held the Harlem Lady Dogs scoreless in the first inning and retired the first batter in the second. But strong hitting and aggressive base running by Harlem put them up 4-0 by the second inning. Harlem scored in each consecutive inning while Thomson was never able to generate runs, and the game ended after four innings because of time restrictions.
Thomson's regular starting pitcher, Brooke Herkel, came in to pitch the last two innings.
"Brooke's our regular starter, but I wanted to have Bryanna (Neal) start the first game to get some work in," Hampton said. "But Brooke (Herkel) is our No. 1 pitcher, and we're really relying on her this season."
"We just weren't prepared for their pitching," center fielder Khadeja Fanning said after the game. "If it looked good, we tried to hit it, but we just weren't prepared. We prepared in practice, but their pitching was just too fast for us today."
Thomson fared far better in the second game, when they defeated the Lakeside Lady Panthers 15-1.
"Our bats heated up in the second game," coach Hampton said. "I wish we'd hit in the first game like we did in the second."
The strong hitting by Thomson started with the very first batter of the game, when Fanning slapped a solo homer over the left field fence. A bunt, double, three walked batters, and seven singles combined with aggressive base running to give the Lady Dogs a commanding 8-0 lead in the first inning.
"I didn't get any hits at all in the first game, so I was ready to get a hit," Fanning said.
Thomson failed to score in the second inning, but Fanning again got the Lady Dogs scoring with another home run in the third, this time a two-run blast over the left field fence.
"I had two strikes on me, and really just wanted a line drive, 'cause I didn't want to strike out," she said. "But the pitch seemed to come right at me, and I really wanted it, and I was so happy when it went out."
Thomson scored five runs in the third inning to put the Lady Dogs up 15-0.
Strong pitching by Herkel held Lakeside scoreless into the third inning, when the Lady Panthers were finally able to get a runner across the plate. But it was the only run scored by Lakeside in the third, and Herkel again held them scoreless in the fourth, when the game was called with a score of 15-1.
"Pitching the last two innings of the first game really helped me get warmed up for the second game," Herkel said. "I came in and knew what I had to do, and I was ready for it. And I felt really comfortable with my catcher (Haley Poss) behind the plate and the team behind me in the field. We worked good together."
The Chick-Fil-A Fall Classic continued Saturday, with Thomson scheduled to play three games. The games count as part of Thomson's scheduled games, but don't count toward the region standings.