Sunday November 29th, 2015 9:08AM

Softball: Local teams have better-than-expected showing at shortened Lanier Pointe Invitational

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
GAINESVILLE -- The presumed demise of Hall County softball may have been a tad premature.

Several Hall County teams had a strong showing at the annual Lanier Pointe Invitational before the tournament was called due to inclement weather halfway through Saturday's schedule.

Class AAAAA Flowery Branch won two of the three games it played over the weekend, losing only to Fannin County 3-1. East Hall won its first two games before falling to Banks County 8-5 in its third game.

But North Hall, which coach Brooke Russell said was in a state of rebuilding, looked sharp with two wins in its first two games over Class AAAA opponents, including a come-from-behind 9-6 win over Gilmer. The Lady Trojans were tied with Habersham Central in their pool but were trailing the Lady Raiders 4-0 when the rains hit.

The tournament, with 21 teams -- the most in the tournament's fastpitch format -- changed from years past with a four-game, round-robin format in four pools and no bracket play.

The only pool winner before the rains washed out the final four rounds was Duluth, which knocked off Gainesville, West Hall, and Johns Creek. Johns Creek finished second in that pool.

East Hall was tied with East Jackson and Banks County in its pool with two wins apiece and the Lady Vikings and Lady Eagles were slated to play just as the rains hit the Lanier Pointe Softball Complex. Banks County had beaten East Hall, 8-5, earlier Saturday but had lost to East Jackson, 12-11, on Friday.

Flowery Branch was tied with Fannin County in its pool but the Lady Falcons still were slated to take on Class AA power Union County in their final game of the tournament. Fannin County, however, was losing to Class A power Commerce when the rains washed out the action. In that same pool, Dawson County was the tough-luck loser dropping a pair of one-run games, including a 6-5 decision to Flowery Branch in eight innings.
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