At the conclusion of its area tournament, Prince Avenue Christian School’s softball team found itself in third place.
The Lady Wolverines placed third in Area 4 behind George Walton Academy and Wesleyan. They nearly beat both of those teams in the area tournament but fell just short.
Battling the rainy forecast and a handful of tough opponents, the Lady Wolverines completed the area tournament across Saturday, Oct. 2, Monday, Oct. 4 and Tuesday, Oct. 5.
They blasted Providence Christian Academy 21-1 before dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker against George Walton. They rebounded Oct. 4 with a 10-2 win over Mount Pisgah Christian and a 9-6 victory against Hebron Christian Academy.
Unfortunately for the Lady Wolverines, an 8-2 loss to Wesleyan locked them into the third spot and prevented them from finishing higher.
Prince Avenue Christian’s finish earned the No. 9 seed in the 24-team Class A-Private state tournament field. The Lady Wolverines will Calvary Day School in a first-round doubleheader on Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m.
The team’s offense could not be contained against Providence Christian.
Taylor Thomas led the team with four RBIs on two hits. Keirsten Perry drove in three runs as did Jordan Chamberlain.
Audrey Vandagriff recorded two RBIs. Josie Goff, Madi Gillespie, Dachelle Lucas, Addy Ragle, Anna Williams and Ashley Stowell recorded one RBI apiece.
Gillespie pitched the full three innings and gave up just one hit and one walk. She struck out six batters.
A pair of errors by the Lady Wolverines allowed Providence Christian to score its lone run.
Errors proved costly later in the day against George Walton, too.
Prince Avenue Christian committed five errors, allowing the Lady Bulldogs to score two earned runs.
Bailey Throckmorton pitched that game and went all six innings with only two earned runs allowed on six hits and one walk. She struck out five batters.
Perry had two RBIs while Lauren MacDonald had one. The team only recorded five hits.
“We kept battling hard every inning and we came back,” Gillespie said. “But then we had a couple of mistakes and it made it 4-3. If we come together with offense and defense, we will have a better outcome.”
The Lady Wolverines rebounded with a dominant showing against Mount Pisgah.
They poured on seven runs in the bottom of the seventh before tacking on runs in the third and fifth to end the game early.
Chamberlain led the team with two RBIs. Vandagriff, Thomas, Gillespie and MacDonald each drove in one run.
Gillespie pitched two innings and allowed no earned runs on three hits and a walk. Throckmorton tossed three frames and allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks.
The Prince Avenue Christian-Hebron Christian game had a little déjà vu for many of the teams’ fans.
Those teams battled each other through nine innings on Sept. 9 with Prince Avenue Christian scoring a walk-off, 8-7 win.
Their second meeting did not go into extra innings but it wasn’t short on drama.
The score stood at 1-1 through the first inning before Hebron Christian rattled off five runs in the second to go ahead 6-1.
In the bottom of the third, the Lady Wolverines cut into the lead with a pair of runs. They exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 9-6 lead and never looked back.
Gillespie said the epic nine-inning battle got the Lady Wolverines prepared for the Lady Lions’ plan of attack and helped Prince Avenue Christian earn another close victory.
“I believe so,” Gillespie said when asked if the first matchup got the team prepared. “We knew what they were gonna bring to the table and we were all excited about it. ... We knew we were gonna put runs on them.”
Before the Lady Wolverines begin what they hope will be another lengthy playoff run, they aim to cut down on their mistakes.
The team committed 51 errors during the regular season and area tournament games and had allowed 49 unearned runs. The Lady Wolverines averaged around two errors per game.
Gillespie said an increased focus could be what it takes to decrease the miscues.
“Just charge the ball,” Gillespie said. “Make the routines and make the good plays, too. Don't give them anything.”
Prince Avenue Christian’s players want Wednesday’s first-round series to set the stage for another Final Four like last year.
Regardless of what the postseason holds, Gillespie is thrilled for the opportunity to compete in the playoffs during her final season with the Lady Wolverines.
“I'm so excited,” she said. “I'm really excited.”