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Archer takes step with win over Broncos

SNELLVILLE -- For a pitcher who Brookwood always seemed to slip past, Nani Cabrales came out Tuesday night confident.

More confident than ever.

"At the beginning of the game, I knew we were going to win," the Archer pitcher said. "Everyone was pumped up in the dugout. As a pitcher that gives you a boost of confidence."

Cabrales' feeling turned true, but only after extra innings with Archer winning 2-1 in eight innings to knock host Brookwood to the losers' bracket of the Region 8-AAAAA tournament. It assures Archer of at least a No. 2 seed in the state sectionals and gives the Tigers two chances Thursday to win their first region title. Brookwood will play either Grayson or Parkview today at 6 p.m. for a chance at a rematch with Archer.

But beating Brookwood meant a little more.

The extra-innings scrappy win was the first ever for the Tigers over the Broncos in the school's young history and it didn't come easy. Not at all.

"Just watching the progression from Year 1 to now," said Archer coach Kristopher Daniels. "This is just another one of those steps."

"It awesome," said Cabrales, who pitched for Grayson last season and seemed to end up on the wrong side of games against the Broncos.

But Cabrales' pre-game confidence translated to her performance. A week after losing to Brookwood in a game where she struggled with her control, she retired the first seven Broncos.

Across the field, Brandi Jones matched her.

Brookwood's senior pitcher didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning as the counterparts sat down batter after batter.

Alesha Mann got the Tigers first hit on a sinking infield pop-up to short stop and she later scored the first run on a two-out RBI single by Alliyah Williams. From there, both Cabrales and Jones battled out of the small trouble they found.

Cabrales stranded a runner on third in the fourth and another one on second in the fifth. Jones answered by easing out of two-on, one-out in the sixth and then striking out the side in the top of the seventh with her Broncos still trailing 1-0.

Jones ended the game pitching eight innings, allowing one earned run off five hits and struck out eight.

Archer's win seemed in hand in the bottom of the seventh. Brookwood was down to its final out with a runner on second and Emily Brantley became the only Bronco with two hits off Cabrales, scoring Taylor Rinehart and tying the game 1-1 and forcing extra innings.

Just like Brookwood, Archer didn't give up.

Alesha Mann came up with runners on first and third and one out looking to hit the ball to right field. When she popped it up, she felt good about her hit. Then she saw Megan Litumbe's rocket throw home beat the tagging Kristin Hawkins. But the ball popped loose and Mann's emotional ride shot back up.

"I was speechless for a while," the sophomore said. "It was awesome."

Cabrales eeked out of a final inning in the bottom of the eighth on a nearly foul ground ball, but when the throw hit the first baseman's glove, celebration ensued.

"(Coming back) shows a lot of heart on our parts, and (Brookwood's) part too, they never gave up," Richardson said.

Parkview 6, Dacula 1

Down 1-0 in the fifth inning, Parkview had only itself to blame.

To that point, the Panthers had been held scoreless leaving six runners on base in the first four innings. But that stopped in the fifth. The Panthers struck for five runs on their way to a 6-1 win over Dacula in the Region 8-AAAAA tournament to advance into the state sectionals.

Amanda Chambers pitched all seven for the Panthers striking out 11, including the game's final batter, and allowing an unearned run off one hit.

Morgan Robinson tied the game with an RBI single in a big fifth inning and ended the game 2-for-3 with double and she also scored the go-ahead run on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. Freshman Taylor Muirhead was 1-for-2 with a two-run double and three RBIs and Eryn Stepp finished 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Panthers.

Grayson 9, Shiloh 0

Led by a 3-for-3, four RBI game from Shelby Smith, Grayson easily dispatched Shiloh 9-0 in five innings in the Region 8-AAAAA tournament.

The win puts Grayson into the state sectionals and the Rams play Parkview today in the loser's bracket of the tournament.

Grayson scored two runs in the first and then finished off Shiloh with six runs in the second inning. Four of the six runs came with two outs and Brianna Etheridge carried them the rest of the way. The pitcher threw five innings, not giving a hit until the fifth when Shiloh rattled off three without scoring a run. Etheridge struck out four in the game.

Taylor Denton ended the game 1-for-3 with a run scored and Niki Cook scored a pair of runs on a 1-for-3 night.