For the fourth time in the past nine years, the Georgia Perimeter College softball team is going to the NJCAA national championship tournament
The sixth-seeded Jaguars swept through the Region 17 double-elimination tournament with three victories and punctuated their dominance with an 18-4 victory over top-seeded Abraham-Baldwin Agricultural College Sunday at Strong Rock Academy in Locust Grove.
Next stop for the Jaguars (25-19) is St. George, Utah, for the NJCAA national tournament May 13.
LaBrisha Washington pitched her third victory of the tournament and the Jaguars belted four home runs to win the championship.
GPC exploded for nine runs in the top of the third inning—featuring three home runs—and had another big inning in the fifth, plating eight runs.
Chase Battle led the hit parade with four hits—a three-run home run blast to centerfield, two doubles and a single to the right field fence. She finished the tournament with 10 runs batted in.
Khayreah Parrish lofted a two-run homer over the left field fence in the big third inning, and Ashtin Burton made it back-to-back blasts with a solo shot to right. Battle's homer finished the inning and gave the Jags a 10-1 lead. Sam Leach smacked a three-run home run in the fifth inning to round out GPC's scoring.
ABAC (26-12) had two home runs and was the only team to score off Washington (17-12), who earned wins against the league's three top-seeded teams. She beat third-seeded Georgia Military College 6-0 Thursday afternoon and No. 2 Georgia Highlands College 2-0 that evening. Washington and the team have won eight consecutive games.
"We just gave the ball to La'Brisha," said head coach Ken Deyton. "She had gotten driven and determined, and we just gave the ball to her. She matured over the season and pitched us into nationals."
The big third inning chased ABAC's ace, Taylor Boyett, who had finished the season with a 1.89 earned run average, best in the region.
To even get into the tournament, GPC had to sweep doubleheaders at Georgia Military and Darton State College in the last week of GCAA play. Washington pitched all of those games pitched and won them.
"The character and heart of this team is second to none. That's what did it for them—they're hard workers and very coachable," Deyton said.
For the Jaguars the glow of winning the championship is even brighter given that it the program's final season after more than four decades of competition going back to the early days of DeKalb College. Intercollegiate athletics will end this spring because the college is merging with Georgia State University.
"When I recruited this team, I recruited them to win a national championship," he said. "This being our last year we'd like to win the national championship."
Deyton also praised ABAC head coach Donna Campbell, who is retiring and coached her last game Sunday. "A lot of respect goes to Donna Campbell," he said.
GPC won the conference championship in 2007, 2010 and 2013. The Jaguars finished fifth at the national tournament in 2007, but didn't win games in the other two trips to nationals.