GULFPORT — Brianna Roman had emerged as Bloomingdale's hero after singling home the winning run in victories over Georgia and Tennessee on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, at the Little League Southern Regional softball tournament.
In Monday's semifinal against North Carolina, it was Mackenzie Morrison's turn to play team savior.
With two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the sixth of a scoreless game, Morrison slapped a grounder to shortstop and beat out the throw as Sammie Selden crossed home plate with the game's only run in Bloomingdale's 1-0 win.
"I didn't think our games could get any more dramatic, but (Monday's win) sure was," Bloomingdale manager Jerry Schinella said.
Morrison's infield hit was snared by North Carolina shortstop Haylee Overholt, who dove to her left to make the catch on one hop. Overholt rose to her feet and fired to first just a fraction too late to catch Morrison.
"I looked straight ahead and ran as hard as I could," Morrison said.
Morrison's hustle advances Bloomingdale (4-0) into today's region championship game at 6 p.m. against South Carolina, a 6-1 winner over Tennessee in Monday's second semifinal game. Today's victor moves on to the Little League World Series on Aug. 7-13 in Portland, Ore.
Starting pitchers Bree Schinella (Bloomingdale) and Kaitlin Bishop (North Carolina) kept both teams' batters guessing all evening. Bishop held Bloomingdale to three hits, two of which came in the final inning. Schinella struck out seven and surrendered only one hit, a bunt single in the sixth.
Schinella's complete-game win allowed Bloomingdale to rest its No. 1 starter, Savannah Bradley, for today's game.
In South Carolina's victory over Tennessee, pitcher Carley Hoover limited Tennessee to one run on one hit in a complete-game victory. She struck out 11, including the final six batters. With the score tied at one, South Carolina (4-0) scored twice in the third to pull away. Carson O'Donald singled home the go-ahead run.
S. CAROLINA 5, VIRGINIA 3: South Carolina punched its ticket for the region semifinals by beating Virginia in a makeup of Friday's rainout. With the score tied at three going into the sixth, South Carolina picked up two runs for the victory. Amanda Storch opened the inning with a single and scored on a passed ball for the winning run.
WEST VIRGINIA 3, ALABAMA 3: West Virginia and Alabama played to a 3-3 tie in five innings before the game was called for reaching the 1 hour, 10 minute limit. West Virginia (1-2-1) took a 3-0 lead in the first, thanks to RBI singles from Jessie Rowe and Kasey Endicott. Alabama (0-3-1) battled back with a run in each of the first two innings. Taylor Greathouse reached with a single in the fourth for Alabama and later scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch.
VIRGINIA 7, GEORGIA 6: With the score tied at five entering the fourth inning, Virginia (2-2) scored twice to beat Georgia. Teri Herndon reached safely on an error before stealing third and home to score the winning run. Georgia (0-4) got a run back in the bottom half of the inning but couldn't get closer. The game was called after four innings for reaching the consolation game time limit.