COLUMBUS — Hannah Cole might as well have been playing a home game Thursday night, because the bright lights of the Class 7A state tournament in Columbus did not faze her one bit.
In Lambert's first game of the tournament, Cole threw a two-hit shutout where she struck out 15 Hillgrove batters and didn't issue a single walk. The team stringed together four runs to win 4-0 and advance to Friday’s bracket play with a 1-0 record.
“I’m super proud of the girls,” Longhorns head coach Brooks Youngblood said. “We’ve never won a game down here and this is our third time down here. This group is special. I wouldn’t have anyone else be the group of girls to do that.”
It took a while for the Lambert bats to get going Thursday night. Through the first three innings, the Longhorns had not recorded a hit, but sophomore Hannah Cornetto sent a line drive past the shortstop for the first hit of the game for either team.
Freshman Grayson Moody came into the game as the courtesy runner and scored what proved to be the game-winning run off of a passed ball. Lambert continued to pad its lead, scoring one run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings as well, but never putting together a big inning.
“We got the bases loaded twice, “ Youngblood said. “We were dangerous in four out of seven innings. We just couldn’t get the big hit. One big hit and those situations and that game ends 8-0. We gave ourselves opportunities and it wouldn’t usually be frustrating, but I think we were just a little too amped up to make the big hit and we were out in front all night.”
In the fifth, sophomore Courtney Sauer sent a solo home run over the center-field fence. Sauer ended the game with two hits. Cole recorded an RBI single in the sixth and a run scored via an error for the Longhorns in the seventh.
The win continues Lambert’s streak to 26 wins in a row, having not suffered a loss since Aug. 24. A straight sweep to a 7A state title would end the season on a 29-game win streak.
Standing in the Longhorns way will be East Coweta, which won its first-round game Thursday night 1-0 against Cherokee.
Lambert and East Coweta will square off at 11 a.m. Friday morning.