GROVETOWN --- The Thomson Lady Dogs softball team went 0-3 in nonregional play Saturday, as part of the Chick-fil-A Fall Classic at Patriots Park.
Coming off a routing of Lakeside the previous evening, Thomson had high hopes for the three games scheduled for Saturday.
But strong performances by Westside, Cross Creek and Washington-Wilkes proved too much for the Lady Dogs, who went winless for the day.
The first game of the day against the Westside Lady Patriots was a close-fought battle.
Starting pitcher Brooke Herkel held Westside scoreless for two innings until a double by Andi Bentley in the third drove in a run, giving the Lady Patriots a 1-0 lead.
Thomson battled back in the bottom of the third to tie the game when DeAnna Grisson, in to run for Herkel, stole home on a passed ball.
An RBI double by Khadeja Fanning put the Lady Dogs up by one to end the inning with a 2-1 lead.
The game remained tied during the fourth inning, but Westside went ahead in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs to take a 4-2 lead.
Thomson fought back in the bottom of the fifth, when a bases-loaded single by freshman Kellie Crawley pulled the Lady Dogs within one. But Thomson was unable to generate a tying run, and the game was called due to time restrictions after five innings with Westside leading 4-3.
"We just started hitting too late in the game," said head coach Ayasia Hampton following the game. "Brooke (Herkel) pitched a good game, but we started hitting too late, and didn't get the hits when we needed them."
The second game of the day, this time against Cross Creek, started out much better for the Lady Dogs.
Strong pitching by Herkel held the Razorbacks scoreless through three innings, while an RBI single by Haley Poss and sacrifices by Herkel and Jadah Lawson gave Thomson a 3-0 lead.
A rain delay in the fourth inning held up the game by an hour, and when play resumed, Cross Creek had new fire in their bats.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Cross Creek, and an additional walk, a steal home, and a sacrifice RBI combined to let Cross Creek tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the fifth.
An RBI single by Lawson put the Lady Dogs back up by one in the bottom of the fifth.
Cross Creek really came alive in the sixth, though, and rallied to go ahead 7-4. A Lawson RBI double put another run on the board to allow Thomson to pull within two, but the game was called after six innings with Cross Creek leading 7-5.
"We stopped hitting after that rain delay," coach Hampton said after the game. "But several of our girls did really well in that game. Jadah (Lawson) and Brooke (Herkel) are both hitting well and getting on base.
"And our freshman, Kellie Crawley, played real well in that game. Cross Creek just out hit us after the rain delay."
Freshman Kellie Crawley was a significant presence throughout the day, never more so than in the third game of the day, against the Washington-Wilkes Lady Tigers.
Herkel again started as pitcher in the Washington-Wilkes game, and held the Lady Tigers to one run in the first inning. Herkel helped herself with the bat too.
As Thomson's first batter of the game, she led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run to tie the game at 1-1.
"I don't remember what the pitch was," Herkel said after the game. "But when I hit it, it didn't feel like I'd hit anything at all. That's how it feels when you really get a good solid hit, like you didn't hit anything."
Herkel had a three-up, three-down second inning, but Cross Creek regained the lead with a run in the third. Thomson was unable to generate more runs, and Cross Creek took a commanding lead scoring two runs in the fifth and another two in the sixth to finish the game with a 6-1 lead.
Crawley, however, proved herself an effective defensive player at second in the Washington-Wilkes game, with an unassisted double play in the first inning and a dramatic infield catch in the fifth.
"The ball was popped up to me at second, and I caught it for an out," Crawley said describing her unassisted double play. "And there was a runner on second who had headed toward third.
"I was already running toward second so I tagged the base then tagged the runner as she tried to make it back to second, so it was a double play."
Crawley also made an impressive diving catch to end the fifth inning.
With the bases loaded and two outs, the Washington-Wilkes batter popped an infield fly that drifted toward the first base line.
"I saw the ball and I was calling for it, yelling 'I got it, I got it,' but then I saw it was too far away for me to reach," Crawley said.
"So I knew I had to dive for it, so I just laid out for it, and was able to catch it."
Despite the three losses for the day, Coach Hampton had plenty of praise for her players.
"Our girls played really well. Brooke (Herkel) put in a lot of work on the mound, and hit well in all the games," Hampton said after the tournament.