“That was a big win for us, and we’re proud of it,” Cherokee coach Tonya Carlisle said. “We knew it was going to be a battle, and it came right down to the very end.”
With its victory, Cherokee (21-7-1) will host Milton (15-5-2) in a doubleheader today for the region championship. A potential tiebreaker would be played Friday.
Lassiter (26-3-1), meanwhile, will face Etowah at a date that has yet to be set, with the winner claiming the region’s No. 3 seed for the state playoffs and the loser being awarded the No. 4.
After a quiet first five innings for each team’s offense, Cherokee finally woke up in the top of the sixth.
McCormick, who was the Lady Warriors’ only batter with more than one hit, led off the inning with a line drive to deep left field that bounced off the wall and was good enough for a double.
After the first pitch was thrown to the next batter, Katy Stamey, McCormick took off for third, arriving at the same time as the throw from Lassiter catcher Sammi Green.
The Lady Trojans’ third baseman, Kelly Sinclair, had the ball and was in position to tag McCormick out, but she appeared to miss the tag and McCormick was called safe.
After Lassiter pitcher Mackenzie Kayler walked both Anna Rowe and Layken Adkins, and Stamey hit into a fielder’s choice, designated player Naomi Catt hit a groundball to first that drove in McCormick for the game’s only run.
Lassiter had a chance to tie the game in the top of the seventh when Murphy Davis stole second after drawing a walk, putting a runner in scoring position with one out.
After Amanda Wilson struck out, Sinclair stepped to the plate for a tense final at-bat.
Sinclair, who finished the game 2-for-4 and was the only Lady Trojan to get a hit off Dover, fought off multiple pitches and had a line drive to right field called foul before eventually grounding out to Dover to end the game.
Before the sixth inning, Dover and Kayler were the stars of the show, each pitcher giving up only two hits in the first five innings.
Dover finished the game with 10 strikeouts and gave up only two hits.
Despite being charged with the loss, Kayler put in a strong performance and gave up only one run off of three hits while striking out four.
For Carlisle, the win was a hard-fought victory against a tough opponent.
“Lassiter is a very good team,” said Carlisle, whose Lady Warriors are the only team that has beaten Lassiter twice this season. “You can’t make a whole lot of mistakes against a team like that, because they will make you pay.”
Carlisle was also pointed out that Cherokee hadn’t yet finished the job.
“When we entered the season, we had four goals in mind, and one of them was to win the region,” she said. “This win helped us to get one step closer to that goal. While we are going to enjoy (tonight’s win), the job isn’t finished.”
Lassiter coach Jason Campbell declined to comment after the game.