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South rolls in first day, Effingham wins opener
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Both Effingham County and South Effingham advanced in the respective brackets in the state softball sectionals.

Effingham County beat Thomas County Central 3-0 in the Class AAAA first round at Lovejoy Regional Park in Hampton, advancing to meet Northgate late Friday night. Northgate topped the Lady Rebels 9-2, dropping them into the loser's bracket Saturday at noon.

South Effingham beat Cairo 6-0 in the Class AAA first round at Southern Pines Park in Dublin.

In the opener, Sally Faircloth struck out nine and walked one in six innings, and the Lady Mustangs broke open a 1-1 game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Jamie Ray had an RBI triple and Katie Rietkovich added a run-scoring single in the rally.

In the second game, the Lady Mustangs got a large measure of revenge on Hardaway, which had beaten South Effingham twice in the regular season. Alison Kirkland fanned nine in a five-inning no-hitter as the Lady Mustangs blasted the Lady Hawks 10-0.

Ciara Knowles was 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, Rietkovich and Joni Lynn were each 2-for-3 with an RBI and Austin Oglesby and Megan Romano each drove in two runs.

South Effingham erupted for seven first-inning runs to put the game away early.

The Lady Mustangs will meet the winner of the Crisp County-Northside (Columbus) game Saturday at 2 p.m. One more win puts South Effingham back in the state finals at Columbus for the fifth year in a row.