After run-ruling Habersham Central to finish off their first-round series, the Lady Trojans did the same thing to Archer on Wednesday.
Lassiter swept the defending Class AAAAAA state champion out of the second round of the state playoffs, behind an 8-0 five inning win in Game 1 and a six inning 9-1 victory in the nightcap.
The Lady Trojans are in the state finals for the second straight season.
“It’s exciting to go back,” coach Jason Campbell said. “I feel like we have unfinished business once we get there. Archer’s the team that knocked us out of the winners’ bracket last year, so it was good to win this series. I feel like Class AAAAAA is up in the air as far as crowing a champion, and now we get to be a part of the action.”
Perhaps no one had more action Wednesday than Carli Kayler.
The senior catcher has been battling bronchitis for three weeks, but she still managed to put forth a Herculean effort with three home runs and six RBIs in Wednesday’s doubleheader. Kayler belted a two-run homer in her final at-bat of Game 1, then launched back-to-back two-run homers in her first two at-bats of the nightcap.
“To put her behind the plate and take every pitch and play like she did was incredible,” Campbell said. “I had to send her home after practice (Tuesday) because of her bronchitis. And then, to come back and have one of the biggest games of her career is remarkable.”
In all Wednesday, Lassiter crushed five home runs and finished with 22 hits, including seven for extra bases.
Murphy Davis had two hits, an RBI and scored three times, while Kelly Sinclair totaled three hits, two RBIs and scored twice. Elise Sandberg had four hits, including a home run, and scored twice, and Amanda Wilson was 4-for-6 with a home run and two runs scored.
Emily Syvarth scored twice, while Piper Wagner, Abbi Ferrier and Andrea Summey each scored once.
“Our offense is really clicking,” Kayler said. “That’s what sets us up, and when our defense and pitching is on, as long we’re hitting, I knew we were going to win.
“I’m glad we’re making it back to Columbus. We were there last year, and we hope we win it this time.”
Pitcher Brianna Michaud also had a hit and an RBI, but she did the majority of her damage in the circle. Michaud combined to give up one earned run on seven hits while striking out 12 in 11 innings.
“I’m really ecstatic for Brianna,” Campbell said. “She struggled early in the year but never lost her confidence. It’s a testament to who she is. She’s pitching well, and I’m happy for her.”
Lassiter picked up its first run in the opener behind Michaud’s two-out RBI single in the second inning. Then, the Lady Trojans exploded for seven runs in the fourth, including homers from Kayler and Wilson, an RBI double from Sinclair and an RBI single from Davis.
Back-to-back homers from Kayler and Sandberg in the nightcap fueled Lassiter’s four-run first-inning onslaught on Archer starter Lauren Tatum.
Kory Best, who took the loss in Game 1, didn’t fare much better in relief. Kayler crushed a two-out, two-run homer off Best in the second for a 6-0 lead.
Sinclair hit a two-out RBI single in the third, and Wilson scored off an error for an 8-0 advantage.
Brittney Marasette’s two-out RBI single plated Katie Etheridge for Archer’s lone score in the third.
Davis’ RBI double in the sixth moved Sinclair home for the 9-1 margin, which Michaud held in the bottom of the frame to invoke the second run-rule victory.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders,” Campbell said. “We had some big two-out hits and five home runs. We’re getting what we need, from our pitching to our hitting and our defense. Now, we get to roll the dice in Columbus and see what happens.”