In most collegiate sports, there are generally two types of key games.
There are the conference games during which teams jockey for position in the standings that tend to matter. Then there are nonconference games against outstanding competition during which teams see where they stack up against the rest of the country.
Sierrah Gani exceeded at the former during four games over the weekend, while Sean McDermott had a solid display in one of the latter games this past week.
Gani and the Georgia Highlands softball team needed a good showing to secure a spot in their conference tourney. The Cass High graduate finished 6-for-9, as the Chargers finished the regular season out nicely.
Meanwhile, McDermott and his Mercer teammates knocked off No. 1-ranked Florida in a midweek road game. The Adairsville High product had a key RBI double in the later innings of the 6-4, come-from-behind victory.
Former Bartow County athletes will look to have success in both types of key games over the coming week in hopes of having as much postseason success as possible.
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Sam Howard (Albuquerque Isotopes, Colorado Rockies’ organization; Cartersville) — Howard allowed only one run and four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts but was tagged with the pitching loss as Albuquerque fell at home to Las Vegas last Wednesday, 7-0. The 51’s scored a run in the top of the first off Howard before he settled in for five shutout frames. He is now 1-3 on the year with a 5.68 ERA in four starts and 19 innings. Albuquerque (9-15) is tied with Las Vegas for third place in the PCL’s Pacific Southern Division, seven games behind the first place El Paso Chihuahuas. The Isotopes start a four-game series at Tacoma Monday through Thursday and host a four-game set with El Paso Friday through Monday, May 7.
Connor Justus (Mobile BayBears, L.A. Angels organization; Cartersville) — Justus was 2-for-13 at the plate in five games this past week at home against the Mississippi Braves and on the road at the Montgomery Biscuits. Through 20 games and 61 at bats, the middle infielder’s batting average is down to .197 with 11 walks and four RBIs. Defensively, Justus has a .900 fielding percentage in 90 total chances across 19 games. The BayBears (12-11) are currently in second place in the Southern League’s South Division, two games behind the first place Biloxi Shuckers. Mobile completed a five-game series at Montgomery on Monday before opening a five-game home series with the Chattanooga Lookouts Wednesday through Sunday.
Brandon Allen (Georgia Highlands Fr., Woodland) — Allen went 1-for-3 in a trio of pinch-hitting appearances last week against conference-leading East Georgia State. As a result, his season average improved to .324 in 22 games played with a homer and 11 RBIs. The Chargers (28-22, 11-17) were swept in a four-game series last week by the Bobcats and eliminated from GCAA playoff contention. GHC will close out their season with games Tuesday at South Georgia State and at home Saturday against Andrew College.
Elliott Anderson (Auburn So., Cartersville) — Anderson faced four batters Thursday night in an eighth-inning relief appearance at top-ranked Florida. Anderson allowed a hit, a walk, and struck out one with no runs allowed. Florida won the game 3-1 and took two of three in the weekend series. Anderson is 5-0 in 18 appearances this season for the Tigers with a 2.81 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. Ninth-ranked Auburn (31-14, 10-11 SEC) hosts Vanderbilt Friday through Sunday in another Southeastern Conference series.
Brandon Etheridge (Limestone College Sr., Cass) — Etheridge finished his career with a 2-for-7 performance in two games at the Conference Carolinas Championship Tournament this past weekend in Burlington, North Carolina. The Saints lost to 2nd-ranked and eventual conference champion North Greenville in the opening round and fell to 25th-ranked Mount Olive in the tournament losers’ bracket. Etheridge finished the season with a .263 batting average in 48 games and 152 at bats. He had one homer and eight extra-base hits. He also walked 23 times. Etheridge made four pitching appearances this season, working 9 1/3 innings with a 9.64 ERA. He walked seven and fanned 12.
Lane Griffith (West Georgia So., Adairsville) — Griffith went 1-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and a sacrifice bunt Saturday in a start at catcher as the Wolves defeated Auburn-Montgomery 9-4. UWG had a 4-0 week with a three-game sweep of AUM and a midweek win over Emmanuel College. The Wolves (31-16, 17-13 GSC) open the Gulf South Conference Championship Tournament Saturday as a 6-seed against 28th-ranked and 3-seed University of West Florida. The Tournament is being hosted by top-seed and nationally 3rd-ranked Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Sean McDermott (Mercer Jr., Adairsville) — McDermott had one hit in six at bats this past week in starts at No. 1 Florida Tuesday and at home against VMI Friday. The Bears defeated the Gators for the third straight year in a 6-4 decision as McDermott contributed a double and one RBI. He was 0-for-2 in a 4-1 loss to VMI. Mercer was 3-1 for the week winning two other games with VMI. The Bears (31-15, 10-8 SoCon) have a three-game conference series at UNC-Greensboro Saturday through Monday.
Harrison Osborn (Point University Fr., Cartersville) — Osborn was one of nine Point pitchers to work one inning each last Wednesday in a 7-5 home loss to NAIA top-ranked Faulkner (Alabama). Osborn needed only 12 pitches to retire the three batters he faced. He struck out one. He also worked two innings of scoreless relief in an 8-1 win at Montreat (North Carolina) Friday as the Skyhawks swept a three-game conference series over the weekend. Point (29-22, 16-11 AAC) begins the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Wednesday in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Hunter Reaid (Shorter University Fr., Woodland) — Reaid started the final game of a home, three-game series with Lee University Sunday as the Hawks lost 6-3 to the visiting Flames. Reaid was 1-for-4 with a first inning RBI and a stolen base. Reaid appeared in 20 games this season with 14 starts. He hit .319 in 47 at bats with one double and five RBIs. He also walked nine times for a .429 on-base percentage. Shorter finished the year 23-25 overall and did not qualify for the eight-team Gulf South Conference tournament with an 11-19 conference mark.
Grant Robinson (Central Alabama CC So., Woodland) — Robinson made a one inning scoreless appearance last Tuesday in a 7-4 loss at Coastal Alabama-North CC. The Trojans also won three of four games with Snead State during the week. CACC (20-30-1, 10-17-1) hosts Chattahoochee Valley CC Tuesday, plays a doubleheader at Wallace State CC-Hanceville Thursday, and hosts a doubleheader with WSCC-Hanceville Saturday to conclude the regular season.
Mason Robinson (Louisiana Tech R-Jr., Woodland) — Robinson went 1-for-2 with a walk last Tuesday in a 9-4 home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. In a three-game conference series at Western Kentucky, he was 4-for-14 with his fifth homer of the year, two runs scored, one RBI, a sacrifice bunt and one hit by pitch. The Bulldogs won two of three over the Hilltoppers. Louisiana Tech (31-15, 15-6) hosts Middle Tennessee in a three-game Conference USA series this weekend.
Sam Seaman (Gordon State CC Fr., Adairsville) — Seaman had a pinch-hitting appearance and drew a walk Tuesday as the Highlanders routed Andrew College 21-4 in Cuthbert. GSCC (29-22, 15-12) have clinched a conference playoff berth and will finish the conference regular season this week with home games against conference-leading East Georgia State Tuesday, West Georgia Tech Thursday, and South Georgia State Saturday.
NOTE: Young Harris College with Bartow County players Bailey Campbell, Tristin Smith and Tyler Washington didn't play this week. The Mountain Lions’ scheduled doubleheader at Tusculum last Tuesday was cancelled. YHC (25-22, 15-15 Peach Belt Conference) will play in the PBC Championship Tournament May 11 through May 13 in St. Augustine, Florida.
Sierrah Gani (Georgia Highlands CC Fr,. Cass) — Gani came up huge during the final weekend of the regular season. She went 5-for-5 with a double, five runs scored and an RBI in a doubleheader sweep of West Georgia Tech on Saturday. A day later, she hit the go-ahead, run-scoring double that helped the Chargers seal a spot in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, which GHC will host. The No. 3 seed Chargers open with a first-round game against second-seeded South Georgia State at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Cassidy Howren (Reinhardt Sr., Adairsville) — Howren finished 3-for-10 with a walk and three runs scored in the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament. She went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in Reinhardt's final game. The Eagles finished 2-2 in the double-elimination event.
Annalyn Yantis (Samford Jr., Cartersville) — Yantis pitched two innings in relief of a loss to Furman on Sunday. She entered with her team trailing 6-0 and allowed one run on a hit and a single with one strikeout.
Peyton Gollhofer (Ball State Jr., Cartersville native) — Gollhofer was by far the most successful player for the Cardinals in their 4-0 quarterfinal loss to Toledo in the MAC tournament last Friday. Her and Victoria Sec won the Line 2 doubles match, 7-6 (7-1), but it wasn't enough to secure the overall team doubles point. Gollhofer was leading on Line 1 singles — 7-5, 5-7, 4-0 — before the match was halted after the Rockets had secured the win.
TRACK AND FIELD
Anna Hightower (Georgia Tech Jr., Cartersville) — Hightower finished fifth in the pole vault at the North Florida invitational, clearing 3.85 meters.
— Charles Wilson of Bartow Sports Zone contributed to this report.