Instead, the Lady Hoyas received a solid pitching performance from senior Dresden Maddox and took advantage of several errors to defeat top-seeded Kennesaw Mountain 7-3 on Thursday in the decisive third game of the Region 4AAAAA championship.
Last season, Etowah swept Harrison to win the 5AAAAA title, but this time around, a gritty Lady Hoyas team battled back from a 4-2 loss to Kennesaw Mountain in Game 1 to post a dramatic 7-5 walk-off victory in Wednesday's Game 2.
Thursday's contest saw Harrison (15-9-1) jump out to a 7-0 lead before holding on for the victory.
"I used last year's championship loss as a motivator this year," Harrison coach Olivia Petersen said. "I met with the team before coming over for this series and made a point by putting the runner-up cup trophy in front of them. We came close last year, but I wanted them to know that we didn't want another little trophy, we wanted the big one, and they played well enough to get it."
It was Harrison's first region championship since back-to-back titles in 2004 and '05. As a No. 1 seed for the state playoffs, Harrison will host a best-of-three series against the No. 4 seed from Region 2AAAAA beginning Wednesday. The Lady Hoyas will be making their sixth trip to the state playoffs in seven years.
Kennesaw Mountain (20-6), making its seventh consecutive postseason appearance, will host the No. 3 seed from 2AAAAA.
Maddox was in control for much of Thursday's contest. She allowed three unearned runs on six hits while striking out three in 6 1/3 innings. Three of the six hits came in the Lady Mustangs' seventh-inning rally.
"This was definitely one of my best pitching performances," Maddox said. "It's right up there as (No.) 1 or 2. I can't explain how excited I am. Every person put themselves behind the team and we matured as people (as the season progressed). It's a great feeling."
After a the Lady Hoyas went down in order in the first inning, they found themselves in a groove against Kennesaw Mountain starter Jamie Thomas.
Jen Wood grabbed Harrison's first RBI when, with the bases loaded, she was hit by a pitch to force courtesy runner Rachel Farris across the plate in the second inning.
Three errors and two singles from Kayla Caruso and Maddox contributed to three runs in the third frame as Kaci Giles, Caruso and Farris all scored for a 4-0 Harrison lead.
Thomas managed to leave the bases loaded in both the second and third innings to relieve any further damage, but Caruso, who batted 4-for-5 with two doubles and scored three times, crossed home plate in the fourth off Sam Bentzel's RBI single for a 5-0 Lady Hoyas advantage.
Caruso doubled to lead off the sixth and reached third on the throw. One batter later, Bentzel, who was 2-for-3 with three RBIs, singled home Caruso for a 6-0 margin.
Caruso collected her only RBI of the game in the seventh when she doubled home Kellie Carroll for the 7-0 lead.
Harrison's fine defensive play came undone as Kennesaw Mountain rallied in the seventh.
Looking for some offense after six shutout innings, the Lady Mustangs' Kaylee Williams led off the bottom of the frame with a single and reached second on an error. Amber Hallman's double scored Williams and Chandler Stooksbury reached first on an error to help score Hallman from second.
Molly Uhrman singled to center field, but an error allowed pinch-runner Mary Kate Minick to score for a 7-3 deficit with only one out.
After Morgan Howard extended the inning with a single off reliever Caruso, Strebe was called out for stepping out of the batter's box - the second such call on Kennesaw Mountain in the game - giving the Lady Mustangs two outs and ending whatever momentum they were developing.
Howard batted 3-for-3 to lead Kennesaw Mountain, while four other players each had a hit.
Thomas gave up seven runs - three earned - off 11 hits and struck out three in a complete game. The Lady Mustangs totaled four errors in the game.
"You can't hit batters and miss spots and commit errors and expect to win a region championship," Kennesaw Mountain coach Lisa Chapman said. "We're a team that lives off our defense, and we didn't step up to make plays. We gave away a region championship after (Wednesday) night and (Thursday)."