HARLEM — Harlem took advantage of Westside miscues and used two sparkling outings from sophomore pitcher Amber Garrett on her 16th birthday to sweep its way to the Region 3-AA softball championship Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs (24-6, 9-0 region) jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings in the first game, fighting off a late Lady Patriots rally to win 4-2. They scored seven runs in the first three innings of the nightcap, taking the championship 8-0 in five innings.
“It feels good,” said Harlem coach Mike Leverett. “We played well, Amber (Garrett) threw the ball good and we hit the ball.”
Harlem’s title is its second in a row, matching the 2001-2002 Lady Bulldogs, who won back-to-back Region 3-AAA championships.
Garrett (18-5) gave up just two hits while striking out 10 in Game 1 while the Lady Bulldogs took advantage of four Lady Patriots errors.
After being shut down for five innings, the Lady Patriots (15-13-1, 5-3) pushed two runs across the plate and had a runner on third with two outs. Center fielder Christian Mullis made a sliding catch of Kelsey Powell’s liner to end the threat and Garrett stranded a leadoff single in the seventh for the win.
After shutting down the Lady Bulldogs for the final four innings, Westside pitcher Rachael Bonitatibus struggled out of the gate in Game 2, walking the first four batters which the Lady Bulldogs turned into two runs.
The loss wasn’t the end of the season for the Lady Patriots, who will play host to a first-round game in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs on Oct. 16 as a No. 2 seed. As a No. 1 seed, the Lady Bulldogs are assured of home games in the first two rounds.
“It would have been great to win the region, but we didn’t, so now we look forward to the first round of the state at our place,” Westside head coach Brian Holcombe said.