Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill pitcher Kayla Floor (1) pitches during the fifth inning of a softball game against Mill Creek played at Collins Hill on Wednesday.
SUWANEE -- When two quality softball teams get together, the difference is often which team can execute the fundamentals better.
No. 5 state-ranked Mill Creek was that team in Wednesday's key early-season Region 7-AAAAA game against Collins Hill.
The Hawks strung together four of their seven hits on the day and took advantage of three Collins Hill errors over the final two innings to score four runs and come away with a 4-3 road win over the second-ranked Eagles in eight innings.
Anyssa Robles and Breanna Buckley each had huge RBI hits for Mill Creek (7-1-1, 3-0) during that span, while Tori Mitchell (4-0) threw a strong game, limiting Collins Hill (7-2, 1-1) to just four hits and three runs with three strikeouts in the complete-game effort.
"Our girls just hung around," Hawks coach Roger Parham said. "We kept the game within reach. We knew if we could get a couple runs on the board and get back in the ball game, we'd have an opportunity to pull it out.
"Putting the ball in play -- that was the key."
It was a big key for Mill Creek on Wednesday, especially with Collins Hill ace Kayla Floor, normally one of Gwinnett's strikeout leaders, fighting through a nagging leg injury.
Still, the senior right-hander put forth a gutsy effort, scattering eight hits and just one earned run with four strikeouts in going the distance.
And it looked like that effort would be rewarded when the Eagles manufactured a pair of runs without hitting the ball out of the infield in the bottom of the third.
Brea Dickey's single began a run of three straight bunts that led to runs on a wild pitch and Calli Star's RBI ground-out, which gave Collins Hill a 2-0 lead.
It was a lead the Eagles held until their defense began to struggle in the top of the sixth.
Chandler Griffin roped an 0-and-2 changeup for a leadoff double, went to third on Lauren Bennett's single and came home when a throw went awry to cut Collins Hill's lead to 2-1.
Robles then blooped an RBI single to right to pull Mill Creek even at 2-2, though Floor battled through another error later in the inning to keep the game deadlocked.
She couldn't escape another error on Bennett's sacrifice bunt leading off the top of the eighth that scored international tie-breaker runner Griffin to give the Hawks their first lead of the day at 3-2.
But an even bigger run came home when Buckley blooped an RBI double just inside the left-field line and just out of the reach of a diving Emily Buck to chase home Bennett and make the score 4-2.
That run proved even larger when Brittany Roley stole third serving as the international tie-breaker in the bottom of the inning, and came home one out later on Mckenzie Halstead's RBI ground-out to pull the Eagles to within 4-3.
But Mitchell made sure there was no more drama by inducing Star to fly out to right field to end the game.
"Coach Parham does a great job," Collins Hill coach Paul Pierce said. "(Mill Creek) came and battled, and obviously, we've got to do some things to get better. Luckily, it's way early in the season. ... We're going to go to work and get better."