By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Having cleared one hurdle in its last game, Union City soared to even greater heights on Monday.
The Lady Tornadoes won their first-ever regional tournament game, a feat that assured them a spot in both Wednesday’s 7A championship round and a berth in Friday’s sectionals for the first time in a 2-0 victory over McKenzie Monday evening at Graham Park.
Waiting for UC (21-6) in the region title tilt is a familiar foe — South Fulton (23-12) — after the Devilettes surprised host Huntingdon with a 4-1 triumph in Monday’s other 7A semi.
The Twister girls and SF have played three times this season — Union City winning two, including a 1-0 decision in the District 14A championship game last Thursday. The victory erased some of the frustration of South Fulton’s beating the Lady Tornadoes in five of the previous six district title encounters.
Both teams will advance to the next round Friday regardless of Wednesday’s outcome, the winner hosting the runnerup from Region 8 (Riverside or Trinity Christian Academy), the UC-SF loser traveling to the homefield of the winner from R’side/TCA.
Wednesday’s Region 7A final is set to start at 5:30 at Eddlemon-Hawks Field.
Union City — which beat McKenzie 4-2 in a regular season meeting — scratched out a pair of runs against the Lady Rebels Monday and got another shutdown pitching performance from Sadie Hollis, who threw her fourth shutout in as many postseason games this spring.
Hollis (14-5) allowed just two hits and struck out nine — the final three after the Rebels had put runners on first and second base via a hit and an error in the top of the seventh.
“We have a lot of confidence in Sadie, and she just keeps putting up zeros,” a smiling Lady Twister head coach Wade Maddox said after his team’s second straight milestone triumph. “She’s deserving of every bit of the glory she’s getting right now. “I think we’re starting to believe we can win the close games now. We lost three one-run games earlier and four of our six losses have been by two runs or less. We’re finding ways to win these close games now, rather than losing them. It’s contagious.”
UC got the only run Hollis would need in the fourth when Escence Ware laid down a perfect two-strike bunt along the third base line with teammate Tory Reedy scampering home after a throw to first to beat Ware was late.
Reedy smoked a ringing double to left-center to set up the threat. Ashley Faught got an infield hit and stole second, but a pair of strikeouts by Brooke Baucum kept the Tornado runners from scoring until Ware came through.
The Tornado girls got what amounted to be an insurance run in the fifth when Brooke Parker led off with a single and Bettye Claire Beachum beat out an infield hit with Parker continuing on toward third. The first of two Rebel errors on the play allowed her to slide in safely, the second by the leftfielder on an overthrow, allowed Parker to score and Beachum to reach third base and make it 2-0.
Hollis did the rest, getting five of the last six outs via strikeout.
Maddox smiled when asked if he’d have any trouble getting his troops ready for Round 4 vs. SF Wednesday.
“I don’t think so. I told them after they beat us the first time we played this year that we would see them several more times. I’m sure they feel like they let one slip away the last time we played,” the coach said.
“It’s tough to beat a really good team three times in the same season. We do relish the chance, though.”
SF 4, Huntingdon 1
The Red Devilettes kept their state tournament hopes alive with a big road win in the opening round of the Region 7A Tournament on Monday afternoon.
South Fulton — which has made six previous state tournament trips — scored twice in the top of the fourth inning and put up two more runs in the seventh, holding a 4-0 lead before the Fillies finally pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh.
Sara Reams continued her solid postseason work in the circle, picking up the pitching win by striking out six while allowing just one hit.
“Sara’s really pitching well right now,” SF head coach Curt Lee said.
“She stayed inside on their hands and kept their batters from extending their hands. She showed a lot of guts.”
Aalia Bivens was 3-for-4 with a triple and double and an RBI, Kristen Crocker was 3-for-3 and Aariel Wright was 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI to lead a Devilette attack that notched 11 hits.
“I’ve been pretty proud of the way we’ve played the last few games,” Lee said. “We’re playing solid defense, Sara pitched as well as she has since she’s been pitching for me and our bats are finally coming alive.
“Right now they’re giving me a lot to be proud of.”
Published in The Messenger 5.14.13