Photo: Darrell Roaden Brookwoodis Payton Wilson scores the Broncos' first run of the night as Collins Hill catcher Ashleigh Simmons' tag comes up short during Thursday's game in Columbus.
COLUMBUS -- Collins Hill and Brookwood took much different paths to opening day in the Class AAAAA state softball tournament Thursday at the South Commons Softball Complex.
The two-time defending champion Eagles jumped in front early in both their games, while the Broncos had to battle from behind both times.
Brookwood was able to come all the way back in its opener, but couldn't quite get over the hump against Collins Hill and Kayla Floor, as the Eagles advanced to the winner's bracket final with a 6-2 victory.
Floor was strong on the night, throwing complete games against both the top-ranked Broncos and earlier in the day in a 9-1 first-round win over No. 2 East Coweta, scattering 11 hits and one earned run over 12 innings with 13 strikeouts -- 10 of which came in the opener.
And the fifth-ranked Eagles (27-7) gave her plenty of support, with 21 hits on the day, with Emily Buck and Payton Wilson finishing with four hits each.
"Our girls are going to battle," said Collins Hill coach Paul Pierce, whose team will face No. 3 Hillgrove in tonight's winner's bracket final at 7 p.m. "One thing I always know, they're going to come to play. They're going to work hard."
The Eagles jumped on Brookwood starter Brandi Jones (21-4) early in the nightcap -- the game's first two pitches, to be exact.
Brittany Roley rifled an opposite-field triple on the senior right-hander's first offering, while Wilson sent the second pitche of the game into the left-center gap for an RBI double to quickly put Collins Hill up 1-0.
And the Eagles didn't stop there, with Alexandra Spell adding an RBI single to knock Jones out of the game and Buck driving in another run with a grounder to short off reliever Rachel Hill to push the advantage to 3-0.
That appeared to be enough, with Floor taking a no-hitter -- facing just one over the minimum -- into the sixth inning.
But in that sixth, the Broncos managed their first two hits of the game, and capitalized on a Collins Hill error to get back into the game.
Emily Brantley got Brookwood on the board by beating McKenzie Halstead's throw to the plate after Jenny Blackwell's grounder to third.
Megan Litumbe then brought the Broncos to within 3-2 with her RBI single to left with one out.
But Floor bore down and got Mandy Blackwell to fly out to right, and then induced a grounder up the middle from Rachel Hill that Danielle Patterson fielded right on the bag to keep the Collins Hill lead intact.
The Eagles then got those runs right back in the top of the seventh, cashing in on three Brookwood errors and getting an RBI double from Spell to push the lead back to 6-2.
Still, Brookwood refused to quit, loading the bases on infield singles by Ambree Muller and Brantley and a single to left by Daniella Ulloa.
Once again, Floor was able to escape trouble, striking out Susan Norris and getting Jenny Blackwell to ground out to short to end the game.
Roley, Wilson, Calli Star and Spell each had two hits for the game to lead Collins Hill. For Brookwood, the comeback attempt that came up short was nearly its second of the day.
The Broncos (35-6) spotted sixth-ranked Kennesaw Mountain an early 2-0 lead in their opener, but rallied for a 3-2 victory.
Brookwood tied the game 2-2 on RBIs from Muller and Ulloa in the fifth before Jones delivered an RBI single in the sixth to put them in the lead for good.
"We kept fighting," said Brookwood coach Bill Batchelor of his Broncos, who take on either Mill Creek or Milton in an elimination game today at 3 p.m. "They're going to keep fighting. They've done it all year long."
Jones wound up giving up just three hits and one earned run with two strikeouts to pick up the win in the circle against Kennesaw Mountain.
Hillgrove 5, Mill Creek 4, 8 innings
The ninth-ranked Hawks (29-11-1) took a 4-1 lead into the seventh, but a three-run homer by Michaela Morris with one out in the final inning of regulation forced extra innings, where Abby Akins drove in the winning run under the international tie-breaker.
Nikki Sagermann was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs to lead Mill Creek, while Chandler Griffin was 2-for-3 with an RBI.