Photo by Penny Lomenick
Peyton Stephenson slides safely into third base Saturday at the state tournament.

Photos by Penny Lomenick
Catcher Tyler Vannucci gets the force out at the plate versus Central Holmes.

Erin Lomenick makes the catch in left field.

Baylee Floyd swings away at the plate during the state tourney.

Lady Patriots moving on to state finals

The Marshall Academy softball team climbed back through the losers’ bracket for a spot in the Class AA state championship series.

The Lady Patriots will face Tri-County in a best-of-three series for all the marbles. Game one was set for Wednesday of this week on the MA campus. Games two and three (if necessary) will be played at Tri-County Saturday.

At Magee in the state tourney, MA opened with a win over Newton County, lost to Brookhaven, and then won three straight in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tourney versus Central Holmes, Clinton Christian and Brook­haven.

“The seniors really stepped up when it was needed,” said coach Carlton Gibson. “We are excited about playing for the state championship this week. This team has worked hard to get to this point.”

MA-Newton County

The Lady Patriots, coming off a North AA championship, opened the state tourney Saturday in Magee with a 6-3 win over Newton County Academy.

The MA bats were on fire. Leading a 12-hit attack were Alexis McGreger, Carlie Vannucci, Hannah Swallers, Erin Lomenick and Tyler Vannucci, all with two each. T. Vannucci also had two runs-batted-in.

Getting one hit each were Hannah Champion and Bailee Floyd.

MA took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Newton County tied the game in the top of the third. Then the Lady Patriots scored one in the bottom of the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth to go up 6-2.

Newton County tried to rally in the seventh, but MA held on for the three-run victory.

Swallers had 11 strikeouts in six innings of work from the circle. She gave up four hits and walked one.

C. Vannucci pitched one inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

MA-Brookhaven

The bats cooled off in the next game Saturday. The Lady Pats could muster just three hits in a 6-1 loss to Brookhaven Academy.

McGreger, C. Vannucci and Swallers each had a hit with Swallers getting the RBI.

Brookhaven had nine hits, including two home runs.

The score was tied at 0 until the top of the fifth when Brookhaven pushed three runs across. The Lady Cougars added three more in the sixth.

Marshall’s only run came in the bottom of the seventh.

Swallers pitched four and one-third innings, striking out five and giving up four hits. C. Vannucci threw two and two-thirds innings, striking out one and giving up five hits.

MA-Central Holmes

The Lady Patriots bounced back big-time in the losers’ bracket Saturday evening. They routed district foe Central Holmes 12-1. It was their fourth win over the Lady Trojans this season.

The MA offense tucked the victory away with a nine-run third inning.

The Lady Pats connected for 14 hits. The top hitter was Jessica Deming, who went three for three. Getting two hits each were McGreger, C. Vannucci and Lomenick. Lomenick and C. Vannucci each had a triple, while Deming, McGreger and C. Vannucci each had two RBIs.

Contri­buting one hit each were Champion, Swallers, Floyd, T. Vannucci and Faith Shankle.

C. Vannucci was in the circle for four innings. She struck out four, walked two and gave up four hits. Champion threw one inning, giving up one hit, walking one and striking out two.

MA-Clinton Christian

Marshall Academy’s Swallers got the best of a pitcher’s dual in the final four Monday. She gave up just three hits, struck out five and walked three as the Lady Pats beat Clinton Christian in a thriller, 3-2.

MA went up 3-0 in the bottom of the first. Clinton Christian scored two in the top of the second.

Then the Lady Patriots leaned on Swallers and their defense the rest of the way.

Marshall had four hits – one each from Champion, C. Vannucci, Lomenick and Deming.

MA-Brookhaven

The Lady Patriots got their rematch with Brook­haven with a trip to the state championship series on the line. And they celebrated an extra-inning victory, 2-1, Monday afternoon.

MA went up 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth when Champion doubled to score McGreger, who had singled.

Brookhaven tied it in the top of the seventh, and MA failed to score in the bottom.

Tie-breaker rules call for a runner to be placed on second in extra innings.

Brookhaven did not score in the top of the eighth. Two Lady Cougars grounded out to shortstop McGreger.

In the bottom, MA’s Floyd was the runner on second. She moved to third on Deming’s bunt single. Then she scored the winning run when Shankle bunted and Brookhaven made an error on the play.

McGreger and Deming had two hits each for the Lady Patriots. The only other hit was the huge double by Champion.

Swallers went the full eight innings from the circle to earn the win. She struck out 10, walked two and gave up six hits.

“Swallers pitched all 15 innings (versus Clinton Christian and Brookhaven Academy) and had her best performance of her high school career,” Coach Gibson said.

Marshall will enter the Class AA state championship series with a 28-9 record.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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