Lady Patriots finish second in 8-AAAA
Phillips' hit lifts Heritage to dramatic 2-1 victory

DANIELSVILLE - The Heritage softball team wrapped up the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAA in dramatic fashion Saturday at Madison County High School.

Whitney Phillips delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to lift the Lady Patriots (23-8-1) to a 2-1 victory over Apalachee in eight innings in the second-place game.

After that, Heritage fell to Loganville 2-0 in the 8-AAAA championship game. The Lady Patriots needed to beat the Lady Red Devils twice to win the title after dropping a 3-1 decision to Loganville in the tournament Friday.

Apalachee jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Rian Green doubled and scored two outs later on a grounder to short. But Heritage tied the game in the bottom of the frame.

Sophomore Callie Alford, who was a combined 5-for-6 in Saturday's games, led off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. She scored from second when Jamie Melson reached on an error off a grounder to third.

The Lady Patriots did not threaten to score again until the tie breaker in the eighth inning.

In fact, Melson, Heritage's senior left-handed pitcher, retired 19 straight batters after surrendering Green's double in the second inning.

With one out in the eight inning, the Melson and Alford combination came up big for Heritage again, this time with a clutch defensive play.

With one out and Apalachee's Green on third, Melson fielded a squeeze bunt in front of the mound and quickly flipped the ball to Alford at the plate. The Heritage catcher held on and made the tag for the out, despite a bar-jarring collision with Green.

In the bottom of the eighth, Kayla Phillips, the courtesy runner for Melson, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jaclyn Queen.

With two outs, Heritage's Whitney Phillips came to the plate. Up to that point in the game, Apalachee had kept the Lady Patriots' dangerous leadoff hitter off base.

Down in the count 0-2, she smacked a game-winning, line-drive single into right-center field, driving in her young sister Kayla.

Melson tossed a two-hitter in the victory for the Lady Patriots, while Alford was 3-for-3 at the plate.

Against Loganville, Heritage opted to play its younger players, using only one starter in the game - Alford behind the plate.

The Lady Red Devils struck for both their runs in the top of the third on a wild pitch and a throwing error.

Alford provided both of Heritage's hits with a single in the first and a leadoff double in the fourth.

Loganville's Katy Lewis finished the game with 17 strikeouts.

Heritage ended a five-year state playoff drought by winning both of its games in the tournament Tuesday.

The Lady Patriots' last trip to the state playoffs was in 2002 when they won the Class AAAA state title.

Heritage moves on to face the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAA in the Class AAAA North Sectional on Friday at 6 p.m. at Hobgood Park in Woodstock.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.