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Heritage beats Salem, advances to state

The Heritage softball team is once again going to the state playoffs.

The Patriots, who advanced to the second round in 2010, defeated Salem 8-1 in game one of a best-of-three series, before winning the second 4-0.

Kierra Camp pitched both games for Heritage, striking out seven in the opener before coming just shy of a perfect game in the night cap. While Camp took care of things on the mound, the Patriots hit through their offensive struggles with bunts and “small ball.”

Leading the way was Heidi Shephard, who got the Patriots going by driving in two runs in the top of the first innings.

“She got some key hits,” Heritage coach Dickie Hightower said. “She had a good game swinging the bat.

 “We did enough small things to score some runs,” Hightower said.

 Heritage had five hits in the first game, but was helped out by seven Salem errors.

“They helped us out a little big, especially in the first game, but overall it was a pretty good ball game,” Hightower said.

After a 2-1 first inning, the first game remained close until Heritage broke it open in the fifth inning.

Nielah Floyd reached first base after a bad throw by the Salem Seminoles’ pitcher, before moving to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Diamond Callwood in the fifth inning.

Callwood then scored on a bunt single by Kayla Phillips, who scored on a dropped fly ball by the left fielder. Running for Camp, Morgan Boyd scored on a single by Shephard.

The Patriots added three more runs in the seventh inning to seal the first game.

Heritage wouldn’t score as many runs in the second game, but thanks to Camp that wasn’t necessary. The sophomore had a perfect game going into the seventh inning, when she gave up a walk.

The Patriots got the next batter to hit into a double-play, though, to earn their way into the next round of the Region 8-AAAA tournament.

The Patriots will play at Madison County Saturday for a best-of-three series to play for a home-field spot in the state playoffs. If Heritage wins they will play Oct. 6 for first or second place, and if they lose against Madison County they will play for third or fourth place.

“Qualifying for state is the big goal but if we could be the No. 1 seed we’d like to. But we still have to play the ball games.”