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Ringgold steals away Luella's state title

By Doug Gorman

COLUMBUS- The scenario for the Luella Lady Lions was simple-win one time and bring home the Class AAAA state softball title.

Ringgold High School, however, had other ideas, as it beat Luella twice on Saturday with a pair of 1-0 victories to steal away the Lady Lions' state title hopes.

With its second victory against Luella, Ringgold officailly sealed its state title.

However, even before Ringgold played Luella in the championship round it had to beat Northgate Saturday morning just to get to its game with Luella. That contest also ended in a 1-0 victory for Ringgold.

Luella finished just its third season ever with a 28-10 record.

“I feel very blessed to have coached this group of young ladies,” said Luella head coach Stephen Adkins. “They never quit out there.”

Saturday's doubleheader between Luella and Ringgold was third meeting between the two teams in the tournament. Luella beat Ringgold 1-0 Friday in a game decided by the international tie breaker in the eighth to advance to the championship round.

Luella entered the final day of the state tournament in the winners bracket after shutting out its first three opponents to begin the tournament. In addition to beating Ringgold, the Lady Lions also beat Marist 3-0 and Northgate 2-0 to open the tournament on Thursday.

Despite the pair of 1-0 losses in the championship round, Luella senior Brooke Loundermilk pitched a pair of masterpieces on Saturday. In the first game, the Luella senior, who is headed to UT-Chattanooga on a softball scholarship, had a perfect game going into the seventh inning of both contest. Loudermilk finished Saturday's two games with 31 strikeouts in the two games.

In addition to Loudermilk, Casie Jones, April Nolen, Rachel Hellinger and Jami Carty ended their careers, but Adkins said, the group helped put the program on the map.

“Twenty years from now, when people talk about this season, they will talk about this group of seniors. They helped start the program, and raise it to the level where its at now,” said Adkins.

Union Grove also had a chance to win a state title Saturday in the Class AAAAA division, but lost 3-2 in the losers bracket to Woodstock to get eliminated. The Lady Wolverines, who spent much of the year ranked N o.1 in the, beat North Gwinnett 4-3, and Sequoyah 1-0 to open the tournament on Thursday, but lost it's last two games, falling to Collins Hill 1-0 and then to Woodstock.

The Lady Wolverines ended the season with a 34-9 record. It was the Lady Wolverines third straight trip to the state tournament. It was the last high school softball game for Union Grove seniors Lauren Peters, Ashley Hill, Terese Gober, Lynleigh Hurndon, and Lily Skelton.

Eagle's Landing and Eagle's Landing Christian also made it to the state tournament, but were eliminated last week at the state sectionals.

Former Eagle's Lan ding coach Donnie Byrom led Pickens Coutny to the Final Four in the Class AAA division/