The Carrollton High School softball team capped off its fourth consecutive region crown on Thursday evening, as the No. 1 seed from the regular season continued its dominance through the Region 7-AAAAA Tournament with a 7-2 victory over upset-minded and fifth-seeded Woodland, Cartersville in the championship round.
Lady Trojan head coach Lisa Phillips remarked on how it's been quite a run for the program overall and especially its three seniors — Savannah Cook, Ansley Barge and Hannah Horsley.
Carrollton (24-1-1) will begin its Class AAAAA title drive next Wednesday with a doubleheader to open a best-of-three, first-round state playoff series against fourth-seeded Flowery Branch out of Region 8.
As for Thursday's region tournament finale, the Lady Trojans overcame a shaky start defensively that included three errors in the first inning-plus of play that resulted in a pair of unearned runs and a 2-2 tally through two innings of play.
From there, though, Carrollton hurler Olivia Fannin retired the final 16 batters in order for the complete-game two-hitter, yielding no earned runs with one walk and two strikeouts.
"We had that leadoff walk and a couple of mistakes, but she's tough to hit once she settles in and gets determined and we saw that after the second inning," Phillips said.
Carrollton had to fend off a pesky squad in Woodland (14-15), which entered the region tournament with a losing record, but got hot when it mattered most and will now be a No. 2 seed in the state tournament.
"They were the hottest team coming in, obviously, after having the big wins over Hiram and Kell on Tuesday. They really bring a different level of grit to the field," Phillips said. "The first couple of innings, I don't know what we were, but we didn't play as well as we wanted to the first couple of innings. But we were able to score some runs and that helped us relax a little bit."
After the Lady Wildcats pushed a run across in the top of the first on a walk, two errors and an RBI infield hit, Carrollton answered with a pair of runs in the home half on an RBI base knock from Montana Dallas and an RBI sacrifice fly by Fannin.
Woodland plated another unearned run in the top of the second to even things up at 2-all. Once again, the home squad responded, tallying another two-spot after Cook singled and her courtesy-runner, Maddie Mashburn, scored on an RBI triple by Zhari Dunson. A sacrifice fly by Barge brought Dunson home for the 4-2 Lady Trojan edge after two.
Carrollton tacked on two more in the bottom of the fifth after Monsour started the rally with a leadoff single and scored on an RBI double by Scout Jennings, who came around to score on an RBI base knock from Cook.
Barge went 2-for-2 with a walk, sacrifice fly, stolen base, run scored and an RBI, while Cook (2-for-3, RBI), Dallas (2-for-4, SB, run, RBI) and Monsour (2-for-4, 2B, run, RBI) also had multiple-hit efforts.
The Lady Trojans now have a few days to prepare for fourth-seeded Flowery Branch, which comes out of a Region 8 that includes top-ranked Buford and fifth-ranked Loganville.
"They've always been perennial tough teams. Flowery Branch is probably a pretty tough team coming out of that region," Phillips said. "It ought to be a really good opponent for us."
And now with the most exciting stretch of the season on the horizon, the road to Columbus will have to go through Carrollton. The Lady Trojans begin their march with the first-round series and a Wednesday twin bill. The if-game is set for Thursday. Phillips said a time for Wednesday's doubleheader will likely be set today.
"One goal was to win the region and we've done that. The next goal is to hopefully get back to Columbus. We've been close the last couple of years. Just had some bad luck and some bad timing, so hopefully this time we'll continue to play well and do things we're capable of and we'll get there," Phillips said.