Win or go home.
And with the season on the line, the Bremen High School softball team decided it wanted to play a little more ball this fall.
With the No. 3 sub-region spot for the Region 6-AAA Tournament on the line, the Lady Blue Devils secured a 4-0 road victory over Haralson County in the regular-season finale on Thursday evening to punch their ticket to next week's round of eight, where they'll face LFO in a best-of-three series with a Class AAA state tournament berth on the line.
The winner of Thursday's game knew they would be the No. 3 seed and the loser would fall to the No. 5 seed and have their season come to a close, so there was plenty on the line for this rivalry bout.
Bremen sophomore hurler Ashlinn Garner rebounded from a tough outing against Calhoun earlier this week with a resilient effort against the Rebelettes, tossing a complete-game shutout, yielding six hits with two walks, a hit batsman and seven punchouts.
Garner worked out of several jams throughout the evening, keeping runners parked on second and third in the first inning, pitching around a leadoff double in the second and leaving the bases juiced in both the fifth and seventh frames.
In the seventh, Haralson County had the bases loaded and no outs, but Garner induced a ground out to third for a force at home, a called third strike and another groundout to third to seal the deal.
Needless to say, Bremen head coach Amy Pointer was proud of her sophomore right-hander when all was said and done.
"A great performance. That's coming after, and she knows this, she had not a great game against Calhoun. We looked like a different team. So we had to refocus. As much as I wanted to be angry at them for Calhoun, we had to focus on [Thursday] because we knew how important this one was," Pointer said. "So this puts us in the region tournament and a very good shot if we can make it through that first round we'll be in the final four going into that next three-game series. That would be awesome."
For Haralson County head coach Lisa Warren it was simply a matter of not getting the timely hit on Thursday.
The Rebelettes had their fair share of chances, but stranded 10 base-runners, including seven in scoring position.
"We just left too many runners on," Warren said. "We never could get the big hit, we looked at strike three several times. We tried to downplay it the whole week, as far as you're either going to be third place or knocked out of the region tournament."
Bremen scratched an unearned run across in the top of the first on an RBI sacrifice fly by Ragan Folds and made it 2-0 in the second on an RBI sacrifice fly by Shelby Daniel.
The visitors tacked on another run in the third on an RBI base knock from Caitlin Smith and added an insurance run in the seventh on the third RBI sacrifice fly of the game, this one from Alli Eriquezzo to score Smith, who led off the inning with a stand-up double.
Smith went 2-for-3 with a walk, double, run scored and an RBI, while Gracie Richardson (2-for-3) also had a multiple-hit effort for Bremen.
Bremen had four freshmen in the starting lineup on Thursday, along with a sophomore in the circle, and Pointer said her young squad has done some growing up this fall.
"I've got a lot of babies on the field, a lot of freshmen. So it shows you that age really is not a factor. When they decide to play together, they play well. They're a good group of kids, but they're competitive and they're getting better at the competition part," Pointer said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. This is a big deal for us."
The Rebelettes received a strong outing from hurler Katie Carter on Senior Night, as she worked a complete-game nine-hitter with three earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
Ellie Maria (3-for-4) and Carlee Godwin (2-for-3, 2B) accounted for five of Haralson County's six hits.
Although it was tough to see the season come to a close, Warren said it was a fun group to coach and that the team will certainly miss its lone senior, Carter, who has been a four-year staple in the program.
"Katie's been here for four years and has worked real hard," Warren said. "We're going to miss her."