MOULTRIE – With an eight-run outburst in the second inning, Colquitt County High softball rode the shutout pitching of Jade Horne to an 8-0 Game 2 victory over Cherokee High Monday at Packer Park. With that result, the GHSA 7A first-round series between the two schools needs a third and deciding game Tuesday (Oct. 16) at 4 p.m. also on the Colquitt campus.

Cherokee won Game 1 with a big scoring inning, three runs in the third inning that erased the Packers’ two-run lead. The Warriors, representing Region 4-7A as the No. 3 seed, went on to prevail 5-3 as the Colquitt bats went silent over the last five innings against Brooke Hester.

This series, plus Lowndes’ meeting with Etowah High in Valdosta, were the final two waiting to be played in the Class 7A bracket. The South Georgia schools, the top two out of Region 1-7A, could not play as hosts last week due to the arrival and aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Colquitt’s series alone was moved three times from its original date Oct. 10 to Oct. 9 to Saturday, Oct. 13, to Monday.

The winner of Tuesday’s third game will travel to East Coweta High in Sharpsburg later this week for a second-round best-of-3.

Game 1

Not only were Colquitt County softball players not able to be in game action last week, all Packer practices were cancelled from Oct. 10 to the end of the week. The last time Chance Pitts had his team on any field in competition was at Lowndes on Oct. 2 to determine the 1-7A championship.

If it was all about adrenaline, the Packers scored three runs on four hits through the first two innings. Cherokee’s Warriors took the early 1-0 advantage in the top of the first facing Abby Plymel. Hope Jiles started the series with a double to left and touched home on Ashlyn Mickler’s fly-ball out.

Colquitt answered with a two-run first starting with Kelli Johnson’s leadoff single. Overall, Johnson had five hits Monday, and she rounded the bases to tie the score first from Kesley Patel’s sacrifice bunt and Marlie Wingate’s double to left-center. Plymel was next in the box and singled in Wingate to break the tie.

Catcher Sarah Harrell lined a solo home run to left field leading off the home second. It was a 3-1 lead for the Packers, but they made just four more hits without adding any more runs to the conclusion.

Plymel retired seven Cherokee batters in a row, but in the top of the fourth the visitors picked their pace up several notches to snatch away the lead. Both Morgan Ayala and Mickler bunted the softball in play to reach on hits, and Ayala was on third base due to an error. Gracie Mixson proceeded to rip an RBI single down the left-field line and Emma Worley jumped on the first pitch she saw to drive home two.

In the top of the seventh, Jiles led off with a home run for the final 5-3 margin. It was the eighth hit for Cherokee off Plymel, who struck out two and walked only one in seven complete frames.

Wingate, Harrell, Johnson and Katlynn Powers had Colquitt’s remaining hits.

Game 2

Horne worked all five innings of the nightcap and held the Warriors to three hits, two of which came in the top of the third inning when Cherokee loaded the bases. In strikeouts, Horne fanned two batters, and she issued one walk in that same third frame.

But whatever kept their scoring ability down in Game 1, the bats were swinging and connecting for one inning at least in Game 2. The Packers sent 13 batters to the plate to score eight times on eight hits as the visiting team in the top of the second. Three more safeties later in the game gave Colquitt 11 total.

Plymel led off the outburst with a double to left, and Chloe Gould bunted her over to third base. Cherokee’s outfield dropped Harrell’s deep fly ball allowing the first run to score, but things were just getting started.

There had to be a bit of the bizarre also, for when Jami Kling singled Pitts put his stop sign up for the courtesy runner Callie Faircloth. But Faircloth kept going only to stop midway between third and home plate. Seeing the softball loose for a bit, she made the bid for a run and was ruled safe. That just made it a 2-0 game, but there was still more on the way.

Horne reached safely for an infield hit, and Johnson’s groundball single upped the lead to 3-0. With the bases loaded and still one out, Abeny Thomas’ cue shot went to Worley the pitcher, but instead of a catch the softball was rolling into centerfield. That’s a fourth run for Colquitt but also the second out at second base.

Plymel came to bat for the second time, and all bags were full for her second straight hit. Hester returned to the circle, but gave up two RBI to Plymel, an infield hit for Gould to reload the bases a third time, and an RBI single for Harrell.

The eighth run was due to a wild pitch.

Gould, as the centerfielder, ran down three fly balls with the lead 8-0. The same was true for left fielder Kylie Davis. Horne escaped the bases-loaded jam in the third when Jiles and Ayala both singled with one out by inducing two pop-ups.

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