Harlem punched its ticket to the Georgia High School Association Class AA softball state tournament in dominating fashion Wednesday night.
The Lady Bulldogs (22-6), the defending Region 3-AA champions, overwhelmed Screven County in the first round of the region tournament, sweeping the Lady Gamecocks, 11-0 and 9-0, winning both in run-rule shortened five innings.
Sophomore pitcher Amber Garrett (16-5) pitched a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts in the teams’ only meeting this year on Sept. 5.
In Game 1 on Wednesday, Garrett again recorded 10 strikeouts, missing another no-hitter when she allowed a two-out infield single in the fifth inning. In Game 2, she went four innings, surrendering two hits while striking out three.
Freshman Lillie Streets finished the doubleheader sweep, relieving Garrett in fifth inning of Game 2.
“We played good defense tonight and behind Garrett she gives us a chance to win,” said coach Mike Leverett, who graduated seven starters from last year.
Helping provide an offensive spark for the Lady Bulldogs was freshman first baseman Cassie Blizzard. With the Lady Bulldogs up 3-0 in Game 1, she blasted a two-run double to left in the second inning and and added a two-run single in the third. After a run-scoring double in Game 2, Blizzard finished the night 3 for 5 with five RBI.
Blizzard was far from alone, however, as the Lady Bulldogs pounded out 15 hits on the night.
Leading the second game 2-0, the Lady Bulldogs broke it open with five runs in the third inning. Madison Summers’ single and Lindsey Stokes’ triple leading off were the only hits of the inning as they used four walks and a hit batter to push runs across.
After their success in 2012, the Lady Bulldogs are hungry to regain that feeling.
“I got a taste of something great last year and I want to do everything I can to help lead this team back to Columbus, that’s the goal, but win region first,” Garrett said.
The Lady Bulldogs will face the Westside-Dublin winner for the championship at home on Oct. 9, in a doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m.