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Gary Harmon/HHJ Houston County High second baseman Keaton Thomas forces out Northside’s Kerrigan Hicks during Thursday’s sub-region softball game.
 
By MATTHEW BROWN
Journal Sports Writer
mbrown@sunmulti.com
The Lady Bears, as always seems to be the case late in a softball season, are rolling.
Going into the final week of the 2012 campaign, Houston County High won for the seventh time in a row Thursday and made certain it would be playing at home when the Region 2-AAAAA playoffs begin next month.
Alexis Spires, on senior night, drove in three runs to pace the Bears to an 8-0 sub-region win against city rival Northside. That kept Houston unbeaten in the sub-region at 5-0 with one more game to play, that being this coming Tuesday at Jones County.
The top two teams in each 2-AAAAA sub-region will host a best-of-3 crossover series during the first week of October. The winners of those series will qualify for the state tournament and will go to a site in the opposite sub-region to determine state seeding and the 2012 region champion.
Emily Hittinger pitched all five innings Thursday with two hits and four walks allowed. Her shutout bid was in jeopardy a couple of times late.
The Bears got their runs on seven hits. The only player with two hits also happened to be the only other senior player on the roster, outfielder Carlie Farmer.
Farmer was on third base when her first at-bat resulted in an infield hit and two-base error. But Northside’s Ciara White threw her out at home to freshman catcher Taylor Sheffield.
Kelly Warner was on base via the fielder’s choice, but would also be thrown out by the same combination. Only, it was Sheffield making the assist to White at third base.
With only two hits, the Bears scored four times in the bottom of the second. Taylor Brown followed a leadoff walk with a hard-hit single. Amber Coy was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Hittinger walked to push across the first run.
Brown scored when the Eagles couldn’t connect on the force play at home when Spires put the softball in play. Northside quickly recorded two outs to keep the score at 2-0, but Warner, on a 3-2 pitch, dropped a two-run hit into shallow center, just an inch from the reach of Taylor Poole in centerfield.
Northside’s first hit came from outfielder Kerrigan Hicks in the top of the third. She and McKay Wynn, who walked, were left in scoring position.
The Eagles had another good scoring chance in the fourth as Charitte Swift ripped a double to the wall in left. Again, there were runners on second and third when a grounder went to shortstop Carson Carriker.
At first, it looked like an error and run for Northside. Jason Brett, acting head coach, disputed the play, asking for interference on the baserunner. Both umpires conferred for several minutes and ruled in Houston’s favor.
The Bears were already up 6-0 at the time as Spires took advantage of two walks and an error to single home two in the home third.
Northside shortstop Callie Bookout executed two of her team’s three force outs at home. She kept Warner from scoring after leading off the home fourth with a double.
Warner, meanwhile, started an inning-ending double play after snagging a short pop-up in the top of the fifth.
To end the game at 8-0 in five, Hayley Tierce used her only hit, an 0-2 double with two outs, to drive in two.
Houston County’s week in softball included a big 12-0 sub-region win Tuesday over Warner Robins. Tierce threw a five-inning one-hitter and struck out eight.
In a non-region home game with a top AAAA team, West Laurens, the Bears won 2-1 as Hittinger gave up six hits in seven innings. Houston’s offense had only four hits, two by Carriker.


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