Lady Cats going back to state

  • Lady Cat senior Savannah Chalfant was voted Region 7-4A pitcher of the year by its coaches. She struck out 11 Pickens Dragonettes and surrendered just one hit in GHS’ 6-0 victory to begin the region tournament. Gilmer won game two 12-8 to secure a spot in the Class 4A state tournament. (Photo by Robbie Bills)
Lady Cats heading back to state

by Robbie Bills and Kevin Hensley

For the second consecutive season, the Gilmer Lady Cats are heading to the Class 4A softball state tournament.

Gilmer, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, earned its return trip by sweeping archrival Pickens (6-0 and 12-8) in the opening round of the Region 7-4A tournament Monday in Ellijay.

“We just wanted to win tonight,” GHS coach Kim Charles said. “This region is just so tough. Anybody can beat anybody on any day, and I think everyone knows that. It’ll be a good game regardless of who you play. It really doesn’t matter who comes in first second, third or fourth (in the region). The only thing it will give us is home field advantage.”

She added, “We hit pretty well both games. We’ve adjusted a lot more for (Pickens’) pitchers. We’ve worked a lot on waiting on pitches and trying to take them to right field because Pickens plays us heavy to the left. We had more hits to that side of the field than we normally do.”

Game one was dominated by the Lady Cats. GHS belted 15 hits while all-region pitcher of the year Savannah Chalfant allowed just one hit and struck out 11.

In the first, Taylor Boling doubled to leadoff the inning and Sara Mosley singled. Both finished with three hits on the night, but it was a wild pitch that allowed Boling to race home. In the fourth, Gilmer added two more runs when Mosley drove in McKenzie Chambers and Mallory Kiser, who entered the game as a courtesy runner for Chalfant after she singled with one out.

GHS padded its lead in the fifth. Karli Loudermilk led off the inning with a single and eventually scored when Chalftant reached on a fielder’s choice.

Ahead 4-0, the Cats tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth. With the bases loaded, Chambers scored on a bloop single by Kaylee Deyton. Loudermilk stepped to the plate next and scored Boling with a sacrifice fly.

In addition to Boling and Mosley, Chambers recorded three hits as well. Chalfant and Loudermilk had two hits apiece.

Boling took the mound for game two and as rain started to fall, it did little to cool off the Cats’ scorching bats. Pickens was able to gain some traction offensively, but every time they got close, GHS increased its lead.

Boling and Mosley once again led off the game with hits and both scored on a two-out single by Chancey Davis.

Chalfant and Baylee Wimpey each recorded hits to set the table in the second inning. A pair of sacrifice flyouts by Boling and Deyton moved the Cats’ lead to 4-0.

The Dragonettes finally broke through in the third. Pickens recorded four hits for four runs, though only one was earned after a two-out error plated two.

With the score even at 4-4, the Cats broke the tie during their next at-bat. With two outs and Wimpey on second base, GHS kicked off its RBI hit parade. A Mosley double was followed by singles from Deyton, Loudermilk, Davis and Madison Carver and the Cats led, 9-4.

A walk and two singles loaded the bases for Pickens in the fifth. Boling recorded a strikeout and Mosley threw home for a force out at the plate. A second walk allowed Pickens to inch closer before a two-run error.

With the gap narrowed to 9-7, Gilmer put the game out of reach in the sixth. Deyton raced to first on an infield hit and Loudermilk promptly doubled. GHS added its 10th run when Davis grounded out, and its 11th came home on a wild pitch. A single by Wimpey scored the Cats’ 12th and final run.

Pickens scored one run during its last at-bat in the seventh, but their rally was cut short when a Pickens hitter tried to stretch a double to right field into a triple. Alexis Nunn made the throw to Wimpey at second, who relayed the ball to Davis at third base for the out.

Deyton and Mosley each had three hits, while Davis, Loudermilk and Wimpey recorded two. Davis led the Cats with four RBIs.

Boling struck out 12 Nettes and walked six. She allowed four earned runs.

During the Cats’ last at-bat, Deyton was injured outrunning an infield hit. Her status is uncertain for the remainder of the region tournament.

GHS will attempt to better its state tournament seeding Wednesday at home. Games will begin at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Win or lose, Gilmer will play again Friday. Game time, opponent and location have yet to be determined.

GHS posted a 12-2 region record during the regular season. With its two wins over Pickens Monday, the Cats’ overall record is 23-5.

Seven Cats garner all-region honors

After finishing the regular season with the No. 2 ranking in Class 4A, seven Lady Cats received all-region recognition. Chalfant was voted pitcher of the year and to the first team. She is joined by Loudermilk at catcher. Shortstop Boling and middle infielder Mosley, as well as Deyton in left field  were voted to the second team. Third baseman Davis and Chambers in centerfield received honorable mentions.

All-region players’ seasonal statistics were not available at Tuesday’s press deadline. Senior biographies and photographs will be printed later this month.

Generals take regular season finale

The No. 1 ranked Heritage Generals topped the No. 2 Lady Cats 6-1 last Tuesday following GHS’ senior night recognition.

Heritage struck first. With one out in the top of the second, a squeeze bunt brought the first General across the plate. Chalfant struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.

A first pitch home run started the top of the fourth, stretching the lead to 2-0. After a double, a groundout moved the runner to third. The Generals then executed another successful squeeze bunt to widen their lead to 3-0.

Following a leadoff single, a passed ball put Heritage in scoring position. A throwing error then plated the fourth Generals’ run of the game. Next, a bunt single was followed by a double that gave Heritage a 5-0 advantage. A groundout stretched the lead to 6-0 before the Generals were retired in order to stifle further damage.

The Lady Cats looked to rally in the bottom of the seventh. Chalfant singled with one out before an error put courtesy runner Kiser in scoring position. With two outs, Boling singled to bring Kiser home. However, a flyout ended the comeback attempt and the game.

“We just didn’t hit effectively,” Charles said. “They hit us better and were a lot better with their bunts. We had a hard time adjusting to their pitcher. She’s not really slower, but she throws in a medium range and we couldn’t get a bead on it. We’re gonna have to bunt more against that.”

Chalfant threw a complete game, surrendering nine hits and four earned runs while striking out five.     
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