VALDOSTA — The Lowndes Vikettes received a little bit of everything they needed to beat West Forsyth on Wednesday night: strong pitching, timely hitting, solid defense.
Madison May hit a two-run home run in the first inning of Game 2, Rylin Hedgecock added a solo homer in the third and the Vikettes completed their Class 7A second-round sweep of the Wolverines with a 7-2 victory at Morris-Coast Field of Dreams.
Lowndes (26-4) advanced to the GHSA state tournament, beginning next Thursday in Columbus.
Finding the right words to say to his team afterward wasn’t easy for Lowndes coach Stewart Thomas.
“You’re sitting here and you build up to it and then you get out there and you don’t know what to say,” he said. “But I’m so proud of the girls. They worked hard at it. They refused to lose.
“When things start going wrong, you let it go, you build for the next pitch and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Vikettes, a team with one senior player, has used their youth to an advantage so far this postseason.
“Most of us have been playing together a long time, including middle school too, so we just go out there and have fun,” Hedgecock said.
May’s homer — her first of the season — gave the Vikettes a 3-0 lead after the opening inning. She added a fifth-inning double, an RBI and scored two runs.
“Our energy, our emotion was way higher in the second game,” said May, who knew of her homer as the ball was “off the bat.”
Hedgecock’s homer put Lowndes ahead 4-0 before West Forsyth (15-15) added its pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, courtesy of Bailley Concatto and Baillee Martin.
Lowndes’ Rachel Wolverton pitched four innings, surrendering three hits for two runs with two walks and a strikeout while earning a win. Hedgecock relieved Wolverton and delivered the final out to seal the win.
“It was like adrenaline, because I knew that if I got the out we would go to Columbus and that’s our goal,” Hedgecock said.
Hannah Guthrie threw a complete game in the loss. She allowed seven runs on 10 hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Lowndes 3, West Forsyth 1
Hedgecock allowed one run while delivering seven strikeouts and the Vikettes rallied in the fifth inning of Game 1 to secure a 3-1 win.
Gracie Martin doubled and later scored in the first to give West Forsyth a 1-0 advantage. Alana Frye’s sacrifice bunt helped get Martin home.
After three straight innings without offense, Lowndes responded all at once in the fifth. Jacie Johns reached on an error, Elie Merritt reached on a fielder’s choice and Hedgecock doubled to score Johns. The remaining pair of runners scored after Sophie Sumner’s sacrifice fly.
Hedgecock’s pitching and her defensive support helped the Vikettes keep the Wolverines out of scoring position the rest of the way.
Guthrie pitched another complete game in the loss, scattering four hits for three runs with two walks and two strikeouts.