Hillgrove (24-8) won all four of its tournament games to capture the region’s No. 3 seed for the state playoffs. The Lady Hawks will travel to Region 1AAAAAA champion next week.
Meanwhile, Harrison (20-11) overcame midseason injuries to make the state playoffs as a No. 4 seed. The Lady Hoyas, who went 4-2 in the double-elimination tournament, beating host North Cobb 10-0 earlier in the day, will travel next week to face the 1AAAAAA runner-up.
Kennesaw Mountain and South Cobb had already secured the region’s top two seeds, with the former winning a separate championship series earlier in the week.
Harrison broke a 2-all tie in the sixth inning behind Brianna Michaud’s RBI single. Amber Broome then walked, Jesse Giles singled and Josie Huddleston laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Michaud then laced a shot through the right side to plate pinch-runner Meggie Hetzel for the one-run advantage.
Hillgrove couldn’t answer in the bottom of the sixth, but Jackson’s homer in the seventh evened the contest, and gave new life to the Lady Hawks.
“I’ve been in a slump lately, but really wanted to come through for my team,” Jackson said. “I had seen some good pitches to swing at all game, and the pieces came together at the right time on that home run.”
Sierra Maddox was placed on second for Harrison to start the eighth under the international tiebreaker rule. Hetzel bunted her over, but Hillgrove reliever Abby Evans induced a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat.
Brittany Ferrell was placed on second to start Hillgrove’s half of the inning. Following a strikeout, Abby Akins’ fly ball to right moved Ferrell to third, and Lang drove a two-out single through the left side for the Lady Hawks’ victory.
“I know we had two outs on the board, but, like coach always tells me, I had to act like there’s no one on base,” Lang said. “That kept me from feeling any pressure, and I just swung.”
Harrison took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Hillgrove’s Taylor DeCelles allowed one hit, but she also gave up three walks in the frame, including two with the bases loaded to Giles and Michaud.
Hillgrove chipped away at the deficit with a run in the bottom of the first and second innings. Ferrell scored on Lang’s RBI single in the first, and Ambria Derry came home on Ferrell’s RBI double that tied the contest.
Ferrell batted 1-for-4 with a double, RBI and scored twice. Lang was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Jackson homered to pace Hillgrove.
DeCelles allowed three runs — two earned — on four hits with two strikeouts and four walks in 5 1/3 innings. Evans didn’t give up a hit and struck out four in 2 2/3 relief innings.
“We’re putting it all together,” Hillgrove coach Laura Voyles said about her team’s seven-game winning streak. “Everyone is getting comfortable with each other as players and as coaches.”
Giles batted 1-for-3 with an RBI for Harrison, while Michaud was
1-for-2 with two RBIs. Pierce Fox allowed four runs — three earned — on five hits and struck out seven.
“Because of injuries this season, everybody’s been getting minutes and experience,” Harrison coach Matt Jones said. “That’s added to our depth and made us a better team late in the season.
“We just wanted an opportunity to be in the state playoffs, and we beat North Cobb earlier (Saturday) to do that. Now that we’re in, I think we’ll play well.”