CANTON — Sequoyah found its footing early with a first-round postseason sweep of South Paulding.
The Lady Chiefs took both games of the Tuesday night Class AAAAAA doubleheader — 2-1 and 7-1 — and punched their ticket to the second round, where they will travel to Lee County next week.
In Game 1, Ava Fouts turned in another strong performance, building on her stellar regular season. Fouts pitched all seven innings, striking out 11 and allowing just one earned run on three hits.
“Ava was lights-out,” Sequoyah coach Lane Whitley said. “She had 11 strikeouts, and she commanded the zone. She was huge, and that is the way she has been all year long. She is lights-out any time she steps in the circle.”
Fouts also chipped in on offense, going 1-for-3 with a single in a game where offense was difficult to come by on both sides.
Sequoyah struck early in the opener. It scored in the first inning, with Reagan Hill taking home on a wild pitch. The Lady Chiefs extended the lead to 2-0 in the fifth thanks to Allison Sparkman’s RBI single that scored Sierra Ingalls.
The pivotal moment came in the fourth inning.
With two outs, South Paulding doubled and recorded a hit batter. However, Fouts was able to squeeze out of the jam with a ground ball and only continued to build momentum as the game progressed.
Sequoyah jumped on South Paulding early again in Game 2, scoring four runs in the first three innings. The Lady Chiefs captured the decisive victory after scoring some late insurance runs.
The early offense, though, was something Whitley wants to see every time out.
“That is always what I want to do,” he said. “Sometimes, it takes us a time through the lineup, but tonight, we did a great job of getting on them early. In the second game, we did a nice job of keeping the pressure on them the whole game.”
Sequoyah more than doubled its offensive output in Game 2, going from six to 14 hits. Conversely, the Lady Chiefs allowed only nine hits all night.
Four Sequoyah batters recorded multiple hits in Game 2, with Hill leading the charge at 3-for-5 with a double and triple.
Allison Sparkman pitched the nightcap for Sequoyah, going all seven innings and striking out seven. She allowed one unearned run on six hits.
Sparkman was also able to work out of a tough jam, making for one of the night’s more critical moments. She induced a ground ball to escape a bases-loaded scenario in the fifth inning with no runs allowed.
“Getting these two early games was huge for us,” Whitley said. “We threw our best two pitchers out at them, and they did a great job shutting (South Paulding) down. It is a big deal. We did not want to come back for a third game.”
With the series closed out in the one-day doubleheader, Sequoyah bought itself some time to recuperate before heading into the second round.
“It does a lot for our confidence,” Whitley said. “The biggest thing, though, is it gets us a little bit of rest. It gives our pitchers some time off before we get ready for the next round.”