DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The fifth-seeded Lander softball team scored five runs over the final four innings of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals to defeat fourth-seeded Young Harris 6-5 on Friday night at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
The Bearcats (32-17) earned their 11th consecutive victory and third straight over the Mountain Lions (32-18). Lander will face top-ranked and top-seeded North Georgia on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 in the semifinals.
"Any time you're in the conference tournament, teams are here for a reason," said head coach Glen Crawford. "We knew it would be a battle. They got up on us, we stayed with what we do, Kelli had a great hit to tie the ball game up and we just kept rolling from there. Bri hit a bomb to put us up and then Ferg came back to close it down once we got the lead back. This team doesn't quit. They fight and they fight and they fight and that's what I love about them. We're always in it and I'm very proud of them.
Young Harris took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Emily Harris led off with a walk and stole second. With two outs, Haylie Shope drove in the first run of the game with a line drive that dropped inside the left field chalk to bring Harris home.
The Bearcats answered in the top of the third as Casey Wooten reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a groundout from Sydney Grimes. Kelli McCormack then laced an 0-2 pitch up the middle to plate Wooten and tie the game at 1-1.
After a pair of two-out singles put runner on the corners for Young Harris in the bottom of the third, a Jill Torres blooper into left field made it 2-1.
In the top of the fourth, Dariean Ward opened with a leadoff infield single to shortstop and Brianna Surrento smashed a two-run homer over the left-centerfield wall to give Lander its first lead of the night.
The Mountain Lions answered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth as Georgia Webb singled home a run to cut the lead to 5-3. Murphy Davis and Torres were hit by pitch with the bases loaded and two outs to knot the score at 5-5.
Once again, Lander would respond as Carey drew a walk in the top of the seventh and was replace by Kyra Irvin on the basepaths. After a passed ball moved Irvin to second, Surrento lined a ball into left field and a wild relay throw allowed Irvin to slide home safely with the go-ahead run.
Ferguson, who had been lifted in the sixth inning, returned in the seventh and kept Young Harris off the board to secure Lander's first PBC Tournament win in eight years.
Ferguson earned her third save of the year while Ashley Vinson (6-1) picked up the win. YHC's Louise Disi (4-5) took the loss.