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Softball: Jackson's walk-off home run powers Lambert past Milton
Anna Jackson
Lambert senior Anna Jackson rounds third base Monday after hitting a walk-off three-run home run to beat Milton, 6-5, in the opening round of the Region 5-7A tournament at North Forsyth High School. - photo by David Roberts

Anna Jackson decided the seventh inning had dragged on long enough. 

Lambert entered the last frame of Monday's Region 5-7A tournament game leading Milton 3-0, but by the time the side was finally retired, the Eagles had sent 11 batters to the plate, pounded five hits and taken a 5-3 lead.

So, when Jackson came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, she smacked a three-run home run over the fence in left-center field to lift Lambert past Milton, 6-5, in heroic fashion.

"I just knew that if I needed to get a hit, that would be the time. My teammates were behind me, and I knew they still believed in me, even after I had gone 0 for 3, because I've gotten big hits before," Jackson said. "They were behind me, and good job to Allie (Sewell) and Lindsey (Nelson) for getting on before that."

Brooke Miller
Lambert shortstop Brooke Miller, left, tags out a Milton baserunner Monday during the Longhorns' 6-5 win. - photo by David Roberts
Jackson grounded out to second base in the second inning, then struck out in the third and lined out to right field in the sixth.

But none of that mattered when she stepped to the plate in the seventh inning, as Jackson vaulted the Longhorns into a matchup with Forsyth Central at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"Senior, big moment, big opportunity. She had some at-bats earlier and I think she was just missing a little bit, so I think she was due," Lambert head coach Brooks Youngblood said. "I think she's one of those kids who's tough as nails, and she's going to come through."

Lambert's defense and starter Kirsten Cowart's crafty pitching had held Milton's offense in check all game. 

The Longhorns turned a pair of double plays early in the game, and Sydney Walker made a fantastic catch on a line drive to end the fifth inning.

It wasn't until the seventh inning that Milton finally broke through, as Cowart gave up a one-out double and walked the next batter to put a pair of runners on base for Milton's No. 3 hitter, Riley Krueger.

Youngblood went to the bullpen, opting to let Courtney Sauer get the final two outs.

"There's two on, so I thought about walking her to load them, but she hadn't done much all day," Youngblood said. "I knew she had the potential, but I'm like, 'We're going to play for it.' I think she threw a curveball on the outside, and credit to the hitter. She went the other way with and just had a fantastic hit."

But Sauer surrendered the three-run home run to Krueger, then gave up a double, a pair of singles and then walked two batters before Cowart reentered to get the final out. Krueger went 3 for 4 Monday, including the homer.

"I still have total confidence in her. She does a great job," Youngblood said. "She just got in a tough spot. I mean, you come in with runners on base and you're facing arguably the best hitter in their lineup, at least the one that can do the most damage. Anybody else in that lineup and I feel like that ball doesn't go out."

Cowart ultimately earned the win, pitching 6 2/3 innings while giving up two earned runs on 11 hits and walking two batters.

Kaley Varner
Lambert third baseman Kaley Varner throws the ball Monday during the Longhorns' 6-5 win against Milton. - photo by David Roberts
Sewell, Nelson and Ansley Hyde each finished with two hits, with Nelson and Hyde also driving in a run. 

Kaley Varner got the scoring started when she laced an RBI double into the gap, scoring Cowart.

The come-from-behind win marks the third time Lambert (8-13, 4-6 Region 5-7A) has beaten Milton (6-10, 3-7 Region 5-7A) in as many chances this season.

"That's the name of the game, though: You've got to get 21 outs," Youngblood said. "They pushed us to the limit. We got our 21, then they had to get their 21. You get down to that last out, and we had a couple girls on base, and that's why you've got to play the whole game."