Attendance for the first day of school in Houston County will be a few pupils shy. The Warner Robins American Little League softball team isn’t ready to end its summer.
Melissa Cox doubled home three runs in a five-run third inning as WRALL rallied for an 8-2 win over Virginia in a semifinal game of the Little League Southeast Regional on Monday at Mitch Stadium in Ceredo-Kenova, W.Va. Team Georgia will face Florida in the championship game at 11 a.m. today.
“I’m so glad to be missing school,” Cox said shortly after she helped make sure that happened.
Georgia fell behind 2-1 when Virginia scored twice in the top of the third inning. It marked the first time in 22 regional tournament innings that Warner Robins found itself trailing.
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“You couldn’t tell we were behind by looking at the kids,” WRALL manager Emily Whaley said. “They were up. They were confident.”
A half inning later, they were also ahead.
Kaylee Albritton put WRALL up 3-2 when she coaxed a bases-loaded walk from McLean, Va. starter Sarah Ing. Sydney Barker popped to Ing for the second out, but Cox followed delivered a drive to the left-field wall on a 3-2 pitch.
“I hadn’t gotten (a big hit) in a while so it felt good,” Cox said.
Cox wasn’t in the starting lineup Monday. She came off the bench with two hits. That performance was another example of the depth displayed throughout Georgia’s 12-man team. The bottom three spots in the WRALL lineup went a combined 6-for-8 with six RBI on Monday.
“We’ve got 12 solid balllplayers,” Whaley said. “We’re confident no matter who’s up to bat.”
Albritton, Barker and Avery Lamb each pitched two innings for WRALL. As a result, Georgia will have its full complement of pitchers available for the championship game. Little League softball rules require a day of rest only when a pitcher throws more than two innings in a day.
Florida earned its spot in the championship game with a 5-4 win over Tennessee. The team from Windermere, Fla., also boasts a deep pitching staff but won’t have Monday’s winner Kelsey Morrison available against Georgia because she pitched just less than four innings.
The Georgia-Florida finale represents a rematch of a Pool A game that Georgia won 1-0 in eight innings. The Southeast Regional champion earns a berth at the 2009 Little League World Series in Portland, Ore., and a chance to extend summer for another week.