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From Staff Reports
It came down to the wire, but the GCHS Lady Wildcats battled back from an early deficit on Tuesday to defeat Florence in the second round of the MHSAA State Softball Playoffs.
The win on the road over the Lady Eagles gives GCHS a 1-0 lead in the two teams’ best-of-three series. Game two and three (if needed) are set for Wednesday in Leakesville.
The Lady Cats got off to a bit of a rough start as Florence took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Senior Hannah Hillman, who was touched for the two runs as the starting pitcher for GCHS, homered on a 9-pitch at-bat to lead off the second inning and close the gap to 2-1.
Florence pushed the lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth, capitalizing on a triple and a single. However, the Lady Cats erupted for four runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead. Senior Tiana Caver nailed a 1-out homer to start the scoring. Back-to-back singles by junior CharLee Meadows and sophomore Taylor Brewer put runners on the corners for seventh grader Lilly Rau, who drove in Meadows with a sacrifice fly to right field. Rau’s classmate Zamiah Knight doubled to drive in Brewer and scored two pitches later on a double by sophomore Breeze Jordan.
A single and a 2-out walk allowed Florence to steal a run back in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 5-5, but Meadows followed a triple by Caver in the top of the sixth with a ground ball to the right side of the infield to drive in what ended up being the winning run.
Brewer, who came in to relieve Hillman in the circle in the fifth inning, overcame a triple by Florence in the sixth and retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth to earn the win.
Offensively, Caver led the way for GCHS. She was 3-for-3 on the night with a homer, a triple, an RBI and two runs scored. Jordan, who finished 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI, was the only other Lady Wildcat with multiple hits.