ABAC Fillies win Mid-Atlantic district title

May 9—TIFTON — Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College joined the list of automatic qualifiers for the NJCAA national softball qualifiers Thursday afternoon, defeating Florence-Darlington Tech, 9-3, in game three of the Mid-Atlantic district championship.

Though the Fillies are assured of the national tournament, they won't learn more details until May 14, when the NJCAA announces brackets.

"This is the most special group I've ever coached," said ABAC head coach Mike Reed, adding that they pick each other up when needed.

ABAC men's basketball coach Calvin Sinkfield presented Reed and the Fillies with the trophy on the field after the victory.

Visitors in the third game, the Fillies were ahead 5-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Florence-Darlington put two runners on with one out. That's when Reed elected to switch out starting pitcher Kaylee Barrett for in game two starter Jaci Smiley.

Reed said that had been the plan, to use Barrett as long as possible.

The move worked exactly as hoped. The Stingers surrendered an out to move runners over on a sacrifice bunt, then Smiley got a grounder to third to get out of the jam with no damage.

Her teammates then immediately moved the contest's status to blowout territory with a three-run fifth, sending eight hitters to the plate.

Carter Gore and Alli Eidson reached to start the frame, Reed bringing in Peighton Capwell and Akayla Matthews for speedier options on the basepaths. Capwell stole second just before Eidson blooped a ball to center for a hit, putting runners on the corners.

Before Ava Roland put a ball in play, one run was already in on a wild pitch. Roland then made it 7-1 on a sac fly to left, driving home Matthews.

Ashley Archibald hit a sharp single past shortstop, stole second and scored easily on a double to centerfield by Dylana Barton.

The Stingers had baserunners in the fifth and sixth, but Smiley shut them down. ABAC tacked on a last run in the seventh, a slow roller by Elli Bryan to plate Anna Hutchinson.

Like Saturday, Florence-Darlington refused to go quietly in the bottom half.

Larissa Siders and Allison Carter stood at second and third with one out with back-to-back hits. Jordan Perritt singled in Siders, then Smiley buckled down with a strikeout.

Isabel Allen got in Carter with a single, but the Stingers got too greedy, sending Perritt, too. The Fillies send a perfect throw to the plate, where Roland tagged out Perritt to end the game.

Hutchinson's huge series continued with a solo homer in the second to open scoring.

"She got hot at the right time," said Reed of Hutchinson's run. Wednesday afternoon, she finished a triple short of the cycle in ABAC's 11-7 win. "Big day," he said.

ABAC increased the lead to 4-0 in the third as Laney McGee drove in Lexi Metts before she eventually came around to score on a wild pitch. Eidson hit a sac fly to bring in Gore.

Carter doubled in Siders in the third, the Fillies getting the run back in the fourth when Metts drove in Archibald.

McGee, Archibald and Hutchinson all finished with two hits in the clincher. Barrett allowed no ru runs in 3 1/3 innings pitched. Smiley went the rest of the way for the Fillies.