Junior Lauren Phillips led Airport to a 1-0 District V elimination win over visiting Marlboro County, allowing the Eagles to reach the Sweet 16 phase of the Class 3A state softball playoffs for the first time since the change to a district format in 2001.
Phillips was the winner in the circle, improving to 9-8 on the season with a four-hit shutout with six strikeouts, and delivered the game-winning blow in the bottom of the seventh inning – ripping a bases loaded shot to the fence that goes into the books as merely a single. LaTavia Riley, who signed to continue her softball career at South Carolina State earlier in the day, scored the winning run.
“This is a nice accomplishment for the girls,” said second-year Airport coach Jessica Burke. “They’ve made a lot of improvement this season.”
The Eagles (12-14) advance to tonight’s district finale against a very familiar foe – top-ranked Midland Valley. The Mustangs beat Airport 3-0 in the second round, and swept the Eagles during the regular season on the way to the Region 5-3A pennant. Airport must win two games tonight to advance to the Upper State championship tournament.