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KERSHAW – Andrew Jackson High School softball coach Steve Middleton said early momentum played a key role in the Lady Volunteers’ elimination game win over Ninety Six in the Class AA Upper State championship softball playoffs on Monday, May 12 at the AJ field.
“We had to go out and establish ourselves early,” Middleton said. “That was the key for us and we responded.”
The Lady Vols, 21-8, built a 9-0 lead on the way to a 9-3 win over Ninety Six High School.
AJ’s six-run win over the Lady Wildcats eliminated NSHS from the Class AA Upstate playoffs, while AJ stayed alive.
The Lady Vols venture to Crescent of Iva to face the Lady Tigers in an elimination game at CHS on Wednesday, May 14 at 6 p.m.
Crescent fell to Central, 6-3 in a winner’s bracket game on Monday, May 12 in Pageland.
Central will await the elimination round survivor, needing a win to advance to the state title round next week.
AJ broke on top with four runs in the first inning and stayed on top for the victory over Ninety Six.
Katlyn Starnes, who had a double and a triple, keyed the four-run rally with a two-run double. Lauren Rowell and Angela Sims each had RBI-hits in the first frame.
“We wanted to get the lead and take control,” Middleton said.
Lindsey Robinson, 5-4, then used the early boost to notch the win with 12 strikeouts and three walks over seven innings of work.
“I think getting on top early was important and we played our game,” Middleton said.
Haley Faulkenberry had three doubles and drove in two runs for AJ. Lauren Rowell drilled three hits and drove in two runs.
Starnes had a double, triple and two RBIs. Sims supplied two hits and one RBI.
Rylee Sims and Morgan Bailey each had a hit and a RBI. Morgan Hendrix, Natalie Robertson and Cassidy McKittrick each added a hit for the Lady Vols.
“Our goal is to get to Friday and be in the Upper State championship game and that’s what we’re working for,” he said.
The AJ girls, with the four-run cushion, added single runs in each of the next five frames to take control.
AJ fell to Central of Pageland, 6-2 in the Class AA Upper State Championship series opener on Saturday, May 10.
Lauren Rowell and Lindsey Robinson each pitched for AJ.
Cassidy McKittrick and Katlyn Starnes each had two hits to lead AJ.
Angela Sims, Haley Faulkenberry and Savannah McKittrick each had one hit each for the Lady Vols, who qualified for the playoffs as the Region IV-AA regular-season champion and advanced to the Class AA Upper State championship series after defeating Buford for the District IV crown.