Georgia’s championship hopes come to an end

WARNER ROBINS -- North Carolina took advantage of six Georgia errors and had just enough offense for a 10-0 win Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the Little League Softball Southeastern Regional Tournament.

Georgia’s chances to advance to the World Series ended with the loss.

The semifinals and championship game are scheduled for Monday. West Virginia and Florida play at 10 a.m., with that game followed by North Carolina and Virginia at 1 p.m. The championship game will be played at 6 p.m.

“I don’t really know what happened to us,” Georgia head coach Mike Phillips said. “When they scored that run in the first after we got the first two batters out, it’s like they took the wind out of our sails. We will usually come right back in and score. We just weren’t the same team we had been all tournament season. We had girls diving all over the place in the district and state tournament, but we didn’t show that type of intensity here.

“The teams are a lot better, but I think the grind of tournament play just wore us down. We were a very tired softball team, and when you have to play a great game to win, tired is not a good thing.”

North Carolina, which was coming off a tough loss to Florida on Saturday, scored in the first on two-out hits by Kailey McNeil and Katelyn Wyatt. North Carolina added two more runs in the third on a leadoff single by Carrie Pennell, who scored on a double by McNeil. McNeil scored one batter later on an error.

Meanwhile, the Georgia team could not come up with a hit when it needed it. Its best chance was in the second when Ashley Walker singled with one out and Megan Frank walked one out later. But Pannell got Holly Phillips to ground out to second base to end the threat.

Things fell apart for Georgia in the fifth. Pannell singled to start the inning, and Madison Huffman followed with another hit, scoring Pannell. Three of the next seven hitters reached on Georgia errors, and another one walked, and that allowed North Carolina to open up a lead that proved to be too much for Georgia.

“We still aren’t playing our best, but after (Saturday), it was an improvement,” Pannell said. “We just try to get a little better every game, and we did what we had to do on Sunday to advance. Hopefully, we will get it together before our next game.”

Pannell and McNeil both had two hits for North Carolina, while Kassidy Hulett had two hits for Georgia.