SUWANEE — It just wasn’t Lambert’s day at the plate.
The No. 4 seed Lady Longhorns could never find their stride, as No. 1 seed North Gwinnett’s Kinsley Jennings pitched a three-hit shutout to eliminate Lambert 4-0 in Game 3 from the Class 6-AAAAAA state softball playoffs on Thursday at the Lady Bulldogs’ field.
"I’m still so proud of this team," Lambert head coach Dana Corr said.
"They’ve come so far from our first season when we went [3-15] and now we are 23-10. We’re just so proud of their progression they’ve made and how they play with class on the field and how they never give up."
North jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back. Mallory Koepke singled before Kendall McKinney hit a double to left-center that scored Koepke from first.
Lambert pitcher Kassie Howard (4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 K, 4 BB) struck out Ashley Stephan for the second out of the inning, but after Draven Sonnon drew a walk, Moriah Strother hit an RBI single to make the score 2-0. A tricky hop to the shortstop allowed Sonnon to score the final run of the inning.
The Lady Bulldogs added another run in the top of the fourth when Koepke hit an RBI double to boost the lead to 4-0.
The Lady Longhorns had a difficult time at the plate, as Jennings (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 2 BB) faced only one batter above the minimum until the fifth inning when Savannah Huffstetler broke up the no-hitter in the bottom of the fifth with a single, but Lambert couldn’t advance her past second base.
Lambert threatened in the sixth inning with one out when Maddie Butz and Zoe Miller hit back-to-back singles, but Jennings forced two groundouts to end the threat.
The Lady Longhorns reached the state playoffs for the first time in program history and finished with eight more wins than last season.
"We’re looking towards the future and only lose two seniors in Alyssa Dell’Aera and Courtney Ross," Corr said, "but the future looks bright for us."