The opening round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs turned into a wet and windy affair late Tuesday evening, but the Carrollton High School softball team stayed the course to survive a slippery sweep of Decatur.
The second-seeded Lady Trojans held off the No. 3 Lady Bulldogs in Game 1 for a 6-4 victory and then battled the elements in the latter half of the nightcap for a 13-6 win to advance to next week's sweet 16.
With a steady downpour and howling winds taking over in Game 2, it made play rather treacherous for both sides.
Leading 7-1 entering the top of the fifth, Carrollton head coach Lisa Phillips had her three batters intentionally strikeout in order to move the game along. But the Lady Bulldogs (15-14) didn't go away quietly, scoring three runs in the home half of the fifth to pull within three, stranding runners on first and third.
Carrollton was able to capitalize on those same conditions in the sixth, busting it open with four more runs for an 11-4 advantage and finally closing things out in the seventh.
"It was tough, but we didn't have a choice. The girls rose to the occasion and Olivia (Fannin) was able to make enough pitches with a wet ball to get some outs. We made a couple of plays behind her that helped," Phillips said. "It worked out."
Following two scoreless frames to start Game 2, Carrollton (24-5) put the first four runners aboard in the top of the third behind some small ball.
Sophia Sippola started the rally with a leadoff walk, which was followed by back-to-back bunt base hits from Zahri Dunson and Scout Jennings to load the bases for Carlie Monsour, who stroked a two-run single for the first runs of the game.
Montana Dallas ripped an RBI single into the outfield and Allie Threadgill drew a bases-loaded walk to push the score to 4-0. A wild pitch would score the fifth run.
The Lady Trojans appeared to be on their way to a one-sided win after plating two more in the top of the fourth after Dunson led off with a double and Jennings reached on an infield hit.
Monsour's RBI sac fly brought home Dunson and Jennings scored on an RBI bunt single by Fannin for the 7-0 margin, but Decatur was able to record the final two outs to keep its season alive.
After scoring a single run in the bottom of the fourth when the rain really began to come down, it set the wheels in motion for the murky and muddy finish.
Game 1 proved to be much cleaner, but it also had some tense moments for the host squad.
The Lady Trojans jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run base knock from Sippola, but the Lady Bulldogs answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third to pull even.
Carrollton reclaimed the lead for good in the fourth with Threadgill leading off with a single, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Maddie Mashburn and scoring on another RBI single from Sippola.
Following an error and a single by Monsour to load the bases, Kate Albertus connected on an RBI single for the 4-2 edge, although the host squad left the bases loaded.
The Lady Trojans added a pair of key insurance runs in the fifth on a two-run single by Monsour for the 6-2 margin.
Decatur made things interesting in the top of the seventh, rallying with a pair of runs and bringing the tying run to the plate with only one out, but Fannin induced a flyout to right and a groundout to second base to seal the deal.
Phillips credited the Lady Bulldogs for being a scrappy squad and fighting to the finish in both games.
"Oh, yeah. Definitely. They weren't backing down. They continued to chip away and they continued to play as hard as we could to find a way to win. So hats off to them," Phillips said. "We knew they would be tough and I knew they were well-coached."
Fannin tossed all seven innings, yielding six hits with three walks and fanning 11.
Sippola (2-for-3, run, 3 RBI), Threadgill (2-for-3, BB, 3 runs) and Monsour (2-for-4, 2 RBI) led the offense in Game 1.
Carrollton will face the winner between the No. 1 Loganville/No. 4 Miller Grove series next week in the round of 16 for the right to move on to the elite eight in Columbus, and Phillips fully anticipates a matchup with the top-seeded Lady Red Devils.
"The road through Loganville will be tough, but our girls have been resilient. They've been able to handle whatever opponent's been across from them, so hopefully we'll be able to at least go up there and give ourself a chance to win and get back to Columbus," Phillips said.