Seminoles secure third-place in softball

LOGANVILLE -- Salem's softball team bounced back nicely from its first two region tournament losses Thursday at Loganville High School.

Whitney Lester tossed five innings of four-hit ball and Rylee Rogers hit a long home run to give the Seminoles some breathing room in a 7-1 victory over Apalachee in the third-place game of the Region 8-AAAAA Tournament.

Salem, which was swept in two games by rival Heritage in Wednesday's semifinals, secured the league's No. 3 seed when the Class AAAAA State Tournament begins next week.

Salem (11-17) grabbed the lead for good in the third inning. Lester led off with a double into the left-field corner and moved to third on a fly out. Taylor Beauchamp's ground out to first allowed Lester to scoot home and put the Seminoles up 2-1. Salem had pulled even at 1-1 an inning earlier when Kristin George reached on a bunt single and later scored on Peyton Canty's two-out triple.

Rogers made it 5-1 in the fifth, crushing a first-pitch fastball off Apalachee starter Rebecca Meade to right-centerfield for a three-run home run.

Rogers did it all in the late innings. The right-hander came on in relief of Lester and retired all six batters she faced to close out the win.

Apalachee (15-16), which will be the No. 4 seed, took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the first. Jordan Allen singled and scored a batter later when a ground ball got through Beauchamp's legs at short. But Lester, and later Rogers, kept the ball on the infield (16 of 21 ground ball outs, which included a fantastic, diving stop by Lester at third base in the sixth inning), and Apalachee got just two singles after the opening inning.

Heritage played host Loganville in the championship game, which ended too late for this edition.