WARNER ROBINS -- With their backs against the wall in a win or go home situation, Georgia blew open a close game late and defeated Florida 6-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Little League Softball Southeastern Regional Tournament.
Entering the contest at 2-0 in Pool A action, Florida had already secured a spot in the semifinals. Georgia wasnt afforded that luxury thanks to an 8-4 loss to North Carolina on Friday night.
It was a must win, Georgia manager Allen Dunson said. We lost (Friday), and we needed this win big. Im proud of them for coming back from a loss, and they did a great job. The girls really came through for me (Saturday).
Georgia will take on Virginia in a 5 p.m. semifinal Sunday. Florida will meet Tennessee at 7:30 p.m., with the championship slated for noon on Monday.
For the third time in three games, Georgia got off to a hot start in the first inning.
After Natalie Morgan walked with two outs and Alanna Dunson doubled, Kayley Sellers drilled a line drive triple into the left-field corner that cleared the bases. She went on to score after a wild pitch, and Georgia held a 3-0 advantage after one inning.
They added three big insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth, with the big blow coming off the bat of right fielder Kasey Westmoreland, who drove in a pair of runs with a clutch single.
Throughout their Little League tournament run, Dunson had elected to use three pitchers going two innings apiece in order to have them available for the next game. With everything on the line Saturday, he decided to change his strategy and go with starter Mackenzie Rogers for the entire game.
She delivered by pitching all six innings, surrendering just three hits, and striking out three.
I needed this win to move on, so I just went ahead and burned her, Dunson said. She pitched excellent. She hit the marks, and she just did great for me.
With Rogers unavailable to pitch Sunday, Dunson will likely look to either Natalie Morgan or Emma Whitfield, who have each pitched four innings apiece in the tournament thus far.