Three first-time softball champions crowned in Columbus

Newnan, Prince Avenue Christian and Lanier County won first-ever championships for their respective programs at the GHSA state fast pitch softball tournament at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus Saturday.

And each did it in its own way.

Newnan (27-7, 13-1) won the Class 6A championship after outlasting defending-champion Pope 1-0 in the championship series. However, in early September, a state championship might have seemed far out of reach.

Competing in the Trojan Slam Tournament, Newnan lost to Central-Carroll 5-1 on Sept. 5 and Northgate 9-3 on Sept. 6. A 6-2 victory over Paulding County stopped the skid on Sept. 7, but the third loss in four games came to North Paulding 7-2 on Sept. 8. But the team rebounded and upended then-Class A Division I champion Heard County 5-3 hours after losing to North Paulding.

Newnan then won six-straight games until losing to Alexander 10-4 on Sept. 26 and then Heard County 11-3 on Sept. 27. The team’s last regular-season loss was to Whitewater 4-3 on Oct. 5 before ending the season with a 7-game winning streak and a program-first championship.

Prince Avenue Christian’s path to the Class A Division I championship seemed heaven-sent, until it wasn’t, and then it was again.

The Wolverines entered the GHSA Super Regionals undefeated at 29-0 and upended Barrow Arts 16-0, Mount Pisgah 3-2 and Chattooga 10-1 to move to 32-0 and earn a trip to Columbus. The Wolverines beat Metter 13-1 in the first round of the A-Division I bracket but suffered a season-first loss to sitting champion Heard County 6-5 in the second round, sending the team to the loser’s bracket.

Prince Avenue Christian paved a way. It beat Temple 11-0 in the first game and then outlasted Bacon County 5-1 to earn a rematch with Heard County in the finals of the winner’s bracket and after a 3-1 victory, Prince Avenue had to beat Mount Vernon twice. In the first game, the Wolverines outlasted the Mustangs 5-4 and a 6-5 victory in the second game secured the title and capped a 39-1, 9-0 season.

Lanier County’s trek to the program’s first championship began with a season-opening loss to Cook 12-0 to move to 0-1. Not the most auspicious start.

But the Bulldogs won four-straight to right the ship before losing to GISA’s Westfield 5-1 on August 18. The next day, Lanier lost to Class 6A Lee County 4-3 but did not lose again until October 10 when it fell to Camden County 12-8, hours after Lanier beat the Wildcats 7-3.

That would be the last time Lanier County lost this season.

Once in the Super Regionals, the Bulldogs beat Portal 15-0 and Wheeler County twice 9-1, 15-0 to earn a trip to Columbus. In the championship bracket, Lanier County moved past Bowdon 2-0, Wilcox County 9-1, Washington-Wilkes 7-0 and Glascock County 6-2 to capture the title.

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