Pace (17-12) defeated Pacelli two games to one in its first-round Class A state private school playoff series to advance to the state finals in Columbus, which will be held Thursday through Saturday.
Pace split the first two games with Pacelli on Wednesday, losing the first game 4-3 in eight innings and winning the second contest 4-2.
The third and final game on Thursday belonged to the Lady Knights, who took a convincing 9-2 victory to clinch the series and earn a trip to Columbus.
It will be the first time Pace has advanced to the state finals in fastpitch softball.
“This is the best all-around team that we’ve ever had, on and off the field,” Pace coach Kris Palmerton said. “We have a great group of girls and they are playing good softball right now.”
The Lady Knights get things started in Columbus on Thursday against Darlington in a Class A quarterfinal game at 11 a.m.
Westminster (15-17) fell just short of qualifying for the state finals after being swept by Heard County, the top-ranked team in Class AA.
The Lady Wildcats lost 5-1 in the opening game and then were defeated 2-1 in the second contest.
“We gave them all we had and fought to the end,” Westminster coach Brent McGuire said. “We had the tying runner on third base and the go-ahead runner on first base in the last inning (of game two). Emily Bassett hit a shot right at the second baseman for the final out. If the ball is two feet to the left or right, it ties the game up.”
The losses ended a Cinderella-type run for a Westminster team that were 10-15 at the beginning of the month, but went on to win five games in a row to clinch the Region 6AA tournament and sweep their first-round state playoff series to advance to the second round for the first time.
It was also a disappointing end to the season for Mount Vernon (7-20), which was swept in two games by Prince Avenue Christian in Athens last Wednesday.
Prince Avenue Christian won both games 15-0. Both contests were ended early due to the mercy rule — with the first game being stopped after three innings and game two concluding after four innings.
Blessed Trinity will be advancing to the Class AAA state finals in Columbus after sweeping Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe in two games last Wednesday — winning 4-3 in eight innings in the first game and 9-7 in game two
Marist was eliminated from the AAAA state playoffs as it was swept in two games by Lumpkin County last Wednesday — losing 4-3 in the opener and 4-2 in the second contest.