Having already accomplished their first postseason goal, the Richmond Hill Lady Wildcats will look to check another one off the list today.
After clinching a state tournament berth Oct. 1, Richmond Hill advanced to the Region 3-AAAAA softball championship game with a 1-0 semifinal win over tournament host Coffee on Tuesday.
Sammi Mault pitched a three-hit shutout and Hannah Fitzgerald drove in the game’s only run in the third inning to lead the Lady Wildcats (22-6) to their ninth straight win.
Richmond Hill will play Ware County (10-10), a 3-0 winner over South Effingham in Tuesday’s other semifinal, today for the region title. The 3-AAAAA champion also will claim the region’s No. 1 seed for the state tournament.
“One of their goals was to make the state playoffs, but their main goal is to win region,” RHHS head coach Angie Hummeldorf said of her team. “We’re one step closer to that.”
Coffee (19-9) and South Effingham (17-10) will play at 4 p.m. today to determine Region 3-AAAAA’s No. 3 and 4 seeds for the state tournament.
Richmond Hill and Ware County will face off 30 minutes after that game concludes.
RHHS 8-14, Camden 0-4
Richmond Hill secured a spot in the state tournament by sweeping Camden County 8-0 and 14-4 in a doubleheader last Thursday in the first round of the Region 3-AAAAA tournament.
Madelyn Gorsuch drove in six runs in the doubleheader and Mault added to her memorable senior season with a six-inning no-hitter in game 1.
“One of our goals for our senior year was to make it to state playoffs and win it all,” said Mault, one of five seniors on the team. “It’s a great feeling to know right at the end you can finally pull it through and get to the state playoffs.”
Adriana Garrett reached base safely in eight of her nine plate appearances in the doubleheader, going 5 for 6 with three walks, a home run, five runs batted in and five runs scored. Haley Taylor had five hits and three RBIs, and Fitzgerald homered, doubled and drove in three runs.
Mault didn’t need much offensive support in game 1. She pitched six no-hit innings with six strikeouts before the game was called by run rule.
“It’s a great feeling because I know all the hard work I’ve done has paid off to this moment right now,” Mault said.
“She gets up there and does the job,” Hummeldorf said of her senior ace. “Her confidence level is way up there, which is awesome.”
The Lady Wildcats scored more than enough for Mault with four runs in the third inning. Garrett singled home the game’s first run, Fitzgerald followed with an RBI double to deep left field and Gorsuch lined a two-run single to left.
Another run-scoring single from Garrett extended the lead to 5-0 in the fourth, and the Lady Wildcats sealed the win with a pair of long balls in the sixth.
Garrett crushed a two-run homer over the center field fence, and Fitzgerald ended the game with a solo shot to left.
Gorsuch hit an RBI double in the first inning of game 2 and Taylor added a two-run double in the second to stake RHHS to a 3-0 lead. Camden County (10-11) closed the gap to 3-1 in the third, but the Lady Wildcats answered with a five-run fourth to take control.
After Taylor and Fitzgerald each singled home a run, Gorsuch cranked a three-run homer over the left field fence.
Mackenzie White’s two-run home run in the fifth put the game out of reach at 10-1.
Richmond Hill tacked on four more runs in the sixth, sparked by Morgan Hunter’s two-run single. Garrett singled in another run, and Gorsuch scored on a wild pitch.
Hunter also earned the win after pitching the final four innings. Hunter notched four strikeouts and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third when the score was 3-1.
“We’re coming together as one,” Hummeldorf said. “One of our team philosophies is we put the team first. We play and live with discipline and maximize our effort and give 100 percent every day.”
The Lady Wildcats’ five seniors — Hunter, Mault, Natalie Corbin, Jess Kifferly and Aubri Reed — were honored during a ceremony between games. Their freshman year was Hummeldorf’s first season as RHHS head coach.
“They are very special,” Hummeldorf said. “Having them come in as freshman was special, and even more so seeing them so successful over four years and seeing them grow as individuals and as a team has been amazing to see.”