LAWRENCEVILLE — Newton’s Mariah Williams found herself standing at second base with a chance to give the Rams an early lead in both games Wednesday night against Mountain View.
Both times Williams reached after getting hit by a pitch and promptly stole second. Both times, however, the senior failed to score.
Behind two strong performances by Bears starting pitcher Sarah Currie, who combined to throw 11 innings of four-hit, one-run ball, the hosts swept the Rams 9-1, 8-0 to advance into the second round of the Class AAAAAAA state softball playoffs.
Mountain View’s Game 1 victory in five innings saw Currie work out of a first-inning jam. With Williams standing on second with one out, the senior was doubled up by Currie after catching a soft pop up from Ty’Liyah Hardeman before throwing to second for the third out.
Already leading the Rams 1-0 after two innings, an Ahmari Braden solo home run to right doubled the Bears lead before a Lauren Evens sacrifice fly to center extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth.
With the Rams struggling to time up Currie at the plate, who struck out eight of the nine batters she faced in innings 2-4, Newton catcher Kaitlyn Neely broke through with her first home run of the season, a no-doubter to left to cut the lead to 3-1.
Newton’s Katelynn Anglin followed with a single to center with one out, but the Rams were later retired without scoring another run.
Looking to get the run back, the Bears did just that and then some in the bottom of the fifth. The first five Bears reached base safely in the inning with the hosts receiving back-to-back 2-RBI doubles from Kaylee George and Lexie Simonton to extend their lead to 7-1.
Evens then doubled home a run before Braden ended the game with a single into left.
In Game 2, the Rams came within inches of taking an early 1-0 lead. With Neely at the plate with two outs and Williams standing on second, the sophomore was robbed of extra bases by the Mountain View left fielder, who made a diving stop to end the inning.
After tallying three RBIs in Game 1, Mountain View’s Evens carried over her strong bat into Game 2 and blasted a two-run home run to straightaway center field to open the scoring for the Bears in the third inning.
With two outs, Simonton extended the Bears' lead to 4-0 on a single to center on the first pitch of the at-bat.
Trailing 6-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, a Kyla Stroud single to right-center broke up a no-hitter for Currie, who had allowed only Williams to reach base safely up until that point.
Newton starting pitcher Hayden Pearson followed up Stroud’s single with one of her own, but the Rams were set down in order with Currie adding two more strikeouts to her name.
The Bears went on to win the game 8-0 in six innings with Currie allowing two hits while striking out nine.
No Ram recorded more than one hit on the night while the Bears tagged Pearson for 11 hits in Game 1 and 12 in Game 2. Evens finished the doubleheader 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs to pace the Bears.
George and Olivia Valentour had three hits each for the Bears (19-9), who play at Cherokee in the second round next week.