Salem softball secures state No. 3 seed

LOGANVILLE - Salem’s softball team bounced back nicely from its first two region tournament losses Thursday at Loganville High School. Whitney Lester tossed five innings of four-hit ball and Rylee Rogers hit a long home run to give the Seminoles some breathing room in a 7-1 victory over Apalachee in the third-place game of the Region 8-AAAAA Tournament.

Salem, which was swept in two games by rival Heritage in Wednesday’s semi finals, secured the league’s No. 3 seed when the Class AAAAA State Tournament begins next week.

Salem (11-17) grabbed the lead for good in the third inning. Lester led off with a double into the left field corner and moved to third on a fly out. Taylor Beauchamp’s ground out to first allowed Lester to scoot home and put the Seminoles up 2-1. Salem had pulled even at 1-1 an inning earlier when Kristin George reached on a bunt single and later scored on Peyton Canty’s two-out triple.

Rogers made it 5-1 in the fifth, crushing a first-pitch fast ball off Apalachee starter Rebecca Meade to right-centerfield for a three-run home run.

Rogers did it all in the late innings. The right-hander came on in relief of Lester and retired all six batters she faced to close out the win.

Apalachee (15-16), which will be the No. 4 seed, took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the first. Jordan Allen singled and scored a batter later when a ground ball got through Beauchamp’s legs at short. But Lester, and later Rogers, kept the ball on the infield (16 of 21 ground ball outs, which included a fantastic, diving stop by Lester at third base in the sixth inning), and Apalachee got just two singles after the opening inning.