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Eagle hurlers hold Milton to a hit in win

SUWANEE - McKenzie Halstead drove in seven runs in the Region 7-AAAAA finals. One RBI was enough for the Collins Hill faithful Tuesday night.

The sophomore's walk-off hit gave the Eagles a 1-0 victory over Milton in a tense Game 1, then Class AAAAA's top-ranked team erupted a 9-0 victory in Game 2 for a sweep of the first-round playoff series. Collins Hill (27-3) advances to host Dacula in Friday's second round, with the winner heading to the state finals in Columbus.

"(Halstead's) come up big in big situations the last couple of weeks," Collins Hill head coach Billy Dooley said. "She's doing a really good job for us."

One run in Game 1 was plenty for Kayla Floor (14-1), who pitched a seven-inning one-hitter. The sophomore struck out 11 batters and didn't have a walk, allowing only a two-out single in the third inning to Milton's No. 9 batter, Dayna Hargrove.

Hargrove's hit ended up being Milton's only one of the day.

Collins Hill's Kacey Hawkshead (13-2) followed up Floor's effort with a five-inning no-hitter. The senior struck out eight batters and walked two, pitching out of jams in the second and fourth innings.

"They've done a great job," Dooley said of Floor and Hawkshead. "It's a luxury we enjoy having, two pitchers like that. They're two completely different pitchers, but they both know how to get it done."

Collins Hill had runners on base throughout Game 1, but couldn't break through with a big hit, until the bottom of the seventh when Aerika Miles singled to start the rally. Christina Parham followed with a bunt single, then the runners moved over on the second of two sacrifice bunts by Brianna Cason. Milton pitched around slugger Sammy Lenahan to load the bases, but Halstead made the visitors pay with a drive over the right fielder's head.

"It's definitely nerve-racking at this time of the year," Dooley said. "Kayla was pitching great, but you never know. A bloop hit, an error, a walk. Those can come back to hurt you in a hurry."

Game 2 looked like more of the same for Collins Hill, which stranded 12 runners and hit into three double plays in the first nine innings Tuesday. But Milton's struggles (six errors, seven walks) turned Game 2 into a laugher.

The hosts scored six runs in the third inning - the big blow was a two-run double by Chelsea Littlejohn - and three more in the fifth.

Littlejohn was 3-for-6, Randi Rea was 3-for-6 with a double and Parham was 3-for-7 in the doubleheader. Paige Sneed (one hit, three walks) and Brittany Roley each reached base four times in five plate appearances.

Ashleigh Simmons and Shelley Sweat added RBIs for the Eagles.