by Jason Hanes
Needing a win to stay alive in the tournament, Lady Lightning Gold Futures earned a big, 8-0 (6), win over Impact Gold National Lang to move into the championship bracket of the Triple Crown-USA Nationals 14U division at Sawnee Mountain Park in Cumming, Ga.
Both teams would threaten early, but the Lady Lightning scored all the runs it would need in the third inning. After a double by Maggie Knight and a single by Heather Vaughn, a two-run single by Michele Tarpey scored both runners to make it 2-0. Tarpey would be thrown out trying to stretch her single into a double, but the Lady Lightning weren't finished. After MaKenna Raye Dark was hit by a pitch and MaKayla Marbury doubled to the fence in left, a two-run bloop single by Trinity Nichols doubled the lead to 4-0.
"We had a few nice line drives, led by Maggie Knight," said Lady Lightning coach John Garner. "We had some good hits to follow that, but those line drives really help."
Lightning starting pitcher Lauren Wiles kept Impact Gold at bay, helping her own cause on defense in the top of the fourth as she snared a liner to start a double play and end the inning.
In the fifth, the Lady Lightning put the game out of reach. With the bases loaded and two out, Knight ripped a double to the fence in right-center to make it 7-0. "I had been struggling earlier in the day, but I just slowed everything down and let everything happen," Knight said.
One inning later, with a runner on third, an error allowed the game-ending run to score as the Lady Lightning moved on with an 8-0 victory.
"I feel like this year is going really well for us," Knight said. "Tomorrow, I'm just looking forward to all the competition and to go out and win."
The win moves the Lady Lightning Gold Futures into the championship bracket to take on the East Cobb Bullets - Biele/Heath at Central Park in Cumming at 8 a.m. Thursday.