October 27, 2012

State softball: Lady Bruins on brink of first title

COLUMBUS — One more win.

After holding off West Laurens in the Class 4A state tournament for a 3-2 victory Friday night at the South Commons Softball Complex, Northwest Whitfield is one win away from a state title.

Lady Bruins pitcher Emily Boyd pitched all seven innings for Northwest in the championship bracket victory, allowing two earned runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five. She also drove in a run at the plate. The senior hurler has been a key figure for the squad since the team’s third-place state finish her freshman year.

“We have talked all year about steps,” Boyd said. “We looked at the state tournament as four steps. We’re looking at (today’s game) as just the last step. We want to be successful in that last step.”

The Lady Bruins (34-3) will face the winner of this morning’s consolation bracket final matchup between Madison County (32-7) and West Laurens (29-11) in the 12:20 p.m. final. Having opened the double-elimination tournament with three straight wins, the team they face will have to win twice to thwart Northwest’s quest for a title.

A second game would follow the first today, if necessary.

“That definitely takes the pressure off us,” Boyd said. “They will have to beat us twice in a row, and nobody has done that to us all year.”

After committing seven errors in Thursday night’s 8-7 win in eight innings against Madison County, the Lady Bruins — the top-ranked team in the Ga.PrepCountry Class 4A coaches poll — played much more solid defense against West Laurens.

Seven players had defensive assists or putouts for Northwest, and second baseman Karlie Henson and shortstop Ashley Conner were solid in the middle of the infield. Conner fielded three ground balls for outs and also leaped to snag a line drive to limit the damage West Laurens caused with a two-run fifth inning.

“Ashley Conner really saved us several times,” said Lady Bruins coach Jason Brooker, who’s in his first season leading the team.

The Lady Bruins scored all of their runs Friday in the top of the second.

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