Her one-hitter wasn’t enough, however, as the Lady Mustangs took advantage of two defensive miscues in the third inning and held on for a 1-0 victory over the sixth-ranked Lady Eagles.
Flaherty induced two line outs to begin the third inning. But Malea Bell drew a walk and moved to second on a passed ball before Kimmie Strebe reached on a throwing error.
The errant throw got past first baseman Courtney Atkinson, allowing Bell to score to give the Lady Mustangs (23-3-2) the 1-0 advantage.
That was all Kennesaw Mountain pitcher Bekah Farris and her defense needed.
Farris, who gave up five hits, walked one and struck out four, retired the side in the third and fourth innings, but she ran into trouble the next two innings.
Farris gave up back-to-back, two-out singles to Grayson Lutz and Shar Strother in the fifth, but she got out of the frame with a pop out to second.
Then, in the sixth, Farris allowed consecutive one-out singles to Allie Brown and Atkinson, but Brown was erased at third on a fielder’s choice, and a pop out to third ended Etowah’s latest threat.
Farris retired the side in the seventh to pick up the win.
“This was one of the best games Bekah has pitched in a while in the second half of the season, so it was good to see her come out with a strong performance,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Lisa Chapman said. “Our defense was solid and we didn’t have any mistakes there.
“Usually, that’s the difference in a game when you’re playing a good team like Etowah. They had a good pitcher, and our girls did a good job of putting the ball in play, and we took advantage of a mistake. Sometimes, that’s all you need.”
Flaherty gave up the one unearned run, striking out two and walking two.
“We’ve preached all year that you have to make the routine plays,” Etowah coach Victoria Brown said. “It’s unrealistic to give up one hit and think you’re going to lose the ballgame, but we have to protect the ball.
“We have to do the routine things and not make errors. When you do that, you put yourself in a hole right from the beginning. The girls know that. I’m sure they’ll come out a different team and learn from it. But it’s a tough one.”
With Tuesday’s matchup being a non-region game, neither team was in jeopardy of losing the No. 1 seeds in their respective region tournaments.
Kennesaw Mountain will host South Cobb in a best-of-three series for the Region 4AAAAAA championship beginning Tuesday.
“This is why we schedule teams like Etowah, because we know they’re going to give us good competition,” Chapman said. “This is like a playoff atmosphere here. These are the types of teams we’re going to have to face to get back to (the state finals in) Columbus. So, winning this game gives the girls some confidence to know what it’s going to take to beat some good teams. They’re looking forward to playing for a region championship at home next Tuesday.”
Etowah (20-6-2) will host a semifinal-round game in the Region 5AAAAAA tournament Monday.
“I think that not being able to secure (a victory over Kennesaw Mountain), especially with 10 seniors wanting this win, will motivate them,” Brown said. “It will kind of kick them in the butt and get them motivated for the region tournament.”