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SF in usual playoff position

SF in usual playoff position
SF in usual playoff position

Kayla Davidson moves in for a tag attempt during SF’s win on Monday.
If it’s mid-May, it must mean South Fulton is in the midst of another deep postseason softball run.
The Devilettes clinched their 13th sectional berth in the past 14 seasons and with it a spot in the Region 7-1A championship game with an 11-1 rout of McKenzie Monday afternoon.
A program-record 30th victory assured SF of a place in Friday’s sectional round where the Lady Red Devils will look to earn the program’s sixth-ever state tournament spot — the first since 2004.
Before that though, South Fulton (30-10) will play for the Region 7A Tournament championship Wednesday against the winner of today’s Union City at Huntingdon matchup that was postponed Monday.
Should Huntingdon beat UC today, the Devilettes would travel to the Lady Mustangs’ turf. A Union City triumph in today’s 7A semifinal however, would give SF host rights Wednesday vs. the Lady Tornadoes in the regional title tilt.
Wednesday’s winner will then be at home for sectional play Friday, with the regional title game loser forced to the road for sectional play and likely a date with reigning state champion and perennial power Trinity Christian Academy, which goes into Wednesday’s 8A final with a 41-1 record.
The Devilettes, who’ve outscored four postseason foes this season by a whopping 36-2 count, got their third mercy-rule victory of the playoffs Monday with a performance fitting of a tourney-tested squad.
It also marked the third straight year that South Fulton had ended the Lady Rebels’ season at this juncture.
Leadoff hitter Kacie Daugherty set the table with three hits, two stolen bases and a pair of runs scored, while middle-of-the-order run-producer Kayla Davidson was just that with three hits — a double and triple included — and three RBI.
Ace righthander Haley McKinney notched her 18th pitching victory in 23 decisions, giving up just a solo home run to McKenzie’s Travasia Bowden in the first before then going on to strike out seven and walk one.
“We’ve been here before, and I think every group takes a particular sense of pride that they’re not going to be the team that ends the streak of us advancing to the sectionals,” said veteran SF head coach Curt Lee, who is now 276-80-1 (.773) in his 12-year tenure on the job. “I don’t know that there’s really any significance of winning 30 games for the first time, because we have more goals that we want to achieve.”
“We’ve made some changes in our lineup recently, and I think some of the girls have settled into some different positions and different roles. They’re comfortable. The top of our order is getting on, and the middle is driving them in — just like you draw it up. You don’t have to have big innings all the time, just a run here and there to put the pressure on the other team.”
SF had both small rallies and big ones after McKenzie (23-9) had taken a brief lead on Bowden’s opposite-field homer to right with two outs in the first.
Daugherty slapped the first of her three singles, swiped second, was bunted to third by Chelsie Pitts, then came on around on Davidson’s run-scoring single. Davidson later scored on a two-out wild pitch to put the Devilettes in front for good, 2-1.
South Fulton struck for four runs in the third, Daugherty again igniting the rally with a leadoff hit — this of the infield variety. After stealing second, she rounded the last two bags when Pitts’ ground ball went through the legs of McKenzie’s second baseman.
Davidson then smacked a ringing triple to drive in Pitts and make it 4-1 before McKinney’s bloop single went for a RBI and started the most bizarre play of the afternoon. 
Bowden, attempting to flag down the soft single, instead kicked the ball into the rightfield corner, allowing McKinney to circle the bases on the three-base error and widen SF’s lead to 6-1.
The Devilettes tacked on five tallies in their final two at-bats to bring the game to a premature end via the 10-run rule.
Pitts and Davidson got ribbies with hits in the fourth after Daugherty’s fielder’s choice grounder also was good for a RBI. Marina Barclay scored the Lady Devils’ 10th run via an error on a ball hit by Morgan Maxwell before Pitts’ run-scoring single up the middle signaled the game-over with two outs in the fifth.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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