COLUMBUS - One swing of the bat by Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe's Jodi Archer was the difference between winning and losing as the Eastside Lady Eagles were eliminated from the Class AAA softball tournament Saturday at the South Commons Softball Complex.
The Lady Warriors advanced to the championship game against Oconee County with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
In the championship game, Oconee County defeated Lakeview-Ft. Oglthorpe 2-0 to take the Class AAA title.
"We were ready to play. Things just didn't go our way," Eastside coach Heather Wood said. "We were focused; LFO is just a great team."
The Lady Eagles had a chance to prevent the game from going to international tie-breaker in the top of the sixth inning. But Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe pitcher Jessica Penny struck out the batter for the third out, leaving Erica Cronic stranded on second base.
Prior to Cronic reaching second in the sixth, no other runner made it that far.
Besides Eastside's defense, Amanda Henderson did her part in keeping the Lady Warriors off the bases by recording 17 strikeouts.
"Amanda really battled after (Friday) night. She threw extremely well and put us in a position to win. We were just unable to execute to get runs in," Wood said.
Henderson finished the nine-inning game with two walks and two hits to accompany her strikeouts.
Eastside had another chance to win the game in the top of the eighth inning.
With a runner on third base and one out, Kayla Bruno bunted the ball in what was supposed to be a safety squeeze. Instead of holding back, youthful inexperience caused the runner to head home for the easy out.
"It was a just a misunderstanding on the runner," Wood said. "Most teams will allow the hitter to reach first where we would've stolen (second base) and had runners on second and third."
The third out also came at home plate when two perfect throws by Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe stopped Bruno from scoring off a Cronic double.
Cronic paced the Lady Eagles offensively with two hits, followed by Bri Chambers, Kayla Jones and Sierra Petree, who had one hit each.
The Lady Eagles started the three-day tournament with a 6-0 win over Worth County before sending the Lady Warriors into the bottom bracket with a 1-0 win in regulation.
Eastside joined Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe in the bottom half of the bracket after losing to Oconee County 7-0 Friday.
The Lady Warriors reached the championship game with Oconee County with a win over Columbus Thursday.
After beating LaGrange, the Lady Warriors eliminated St. Pius X on Friday, putting them back in the hunt for the title.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org