Bartow County’s 12U Little League softball team led Western 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth of the first game between the two at the Georgia state tournament.
But the Western girls put up three runs in that half-inning, snatching the game from Bartow’s fingertips.
The next time the two teams met, in the championship game of the tournament, it wasn’t quite as close.
Western took an early lead and won going away, beating Bartow 10-0 and sending them to a runners-up finish.
“We’re just licking our wounds right now,” said Bartow manager Randy Lee. “When they hit the ball, it was just where we weren’t, and when we hit it, it was just right at someone; it was just one of those types of games.”
With a berth in the Southeast Regional on the line against Western, Bartow loaded the bases in the first inning but couldn’t get a run and couldn’t keep pace with Western’s offensive attack.
“That could have been a big change right there, to get that run in the bottom of the frame,” Lee said. “It could’ve been a different type of game, but we just didn’t put the runs on the board.”
The Bartow County team finished with a 3-2 record at the tournament, losing both times to the eventual champ, Western Little League.
They beat Pioneer Little League 15-2 in their first game and Oconee County 24-0 in their second game.
After that 3-1 loss to Western, they came back with their own comeback magic against Habersham Little League to stay alive and force the championship rematch with Western. Down 2-0 going into the sixth and final inning, they scored three runs in the top of the inning and held on to win 3-2.
“The girls played real hard, and we’re very proud of ‘em,” Lee said after the tournament.
He pointed to Chloe Souders, Madison Bentley and Haley Stiles as pitching standouts and Rachael Lee, Ansley Hight, Sadye Johnson, Souders and Eryn Lee as standouts on the hitting side.
Rachael Lee and Souders were second and third in the tournament in batting average, while Bentley was second in strikeouts as a pitcher.
Members of the team were Bentley, Rylee Hensley, Hight, Johnson, Cassie Jones, Eryn Lee, Rachael Lee, Hallie Owens, Maggie Pruitt, Brylie Sanford, Souders and Stiles. The coaches along with Lee were Stacey Jones and James Lee.
This tournament marked the end of the summer tournament season for the players, who will go back to their travel teams and middle school softball in the fall.
“We won that Dizzy Dean state tournament and went through state in Little League, so I’d say that’s a pretty successful go at it,” Lee said.