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Lady Hounds second in region, to host first round of state

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The Lady Hounds will be home for the opening round of the state softball playoffs after finishing second in the Region 4-5A tournament.

Jones County (20-10) will host Wayne County (12-12), the third seed from Region 2-5A, in the first two games of the best-of-three series at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. The third game, if needed, will be Wednesday.

Two-time defending state champion Locust Grove, which hosted the tournament, won the Region 4-5A crown for the third year in a row.

The Lady Hounds got a stellar pitching performance from junior Kenzie Forrester in a 3-1 victory over Union Grove in their first region final four game on Wednesday afternoon. Forrester struck out four, walked two and allowed only four hits in going the distance.

Mackenzie Kilpatrick and Maggie Glover each went 2-for-3 to lead Jones County at the plate.

Locust Grove beat Ola 8-1 in the other first round game.

Ola rallied past Union Grove 11-6 in an elimination game Wednesday evening.

Locust Grove then downed Jones County 7-0 in a winner’s bracket game Wednesday night.

The Lady Hounds managed only two hits against Brooke McCubin, who struck out eight in the complete game victory. Forrester took the loss, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings. Savannah Williams surrendered five runs on two walks and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.

That put Jones County back in the loser’s bracket, but the Lady Hounds rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to take an 8-7 win over Ola on Thursday afternoon to secure the region’s second seed for state.

Destin Howard got the win in relief, holding the Mustangs to three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 11 over the final 5 2/3 innings.

Kilpatrick led the offense, going 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs. Madison Bennett was also 3-for-4, and Howard and Stephanie Youngblood added two hits each.

With the win over Ola, Jones County still had a shot at winning region, but it would have had to beat Locust Grove twice to do so, and the Lady Wildcats quickly squelched those hopes with a 3-0 victory Thursday evening.

McCubin was even more dominant than the day before, pitching a complete-game one-hitter with eight strikeouts. Kaitlyn Brower got the Lady Hounds’ only hit, a third-inning single.

In other first round series of the state playoffs, Locust Grove (25-2) will host South Effingham (13-18), Ola (17-10) will play at Ware County (18-11), and Union Grove (15-8) will visit Statesboro (20-6).

The winner between Jones County and Wayne County will advance to play the winner between Lithia Springs (22-4) and Clarke Central (9-19) in the second round.