Category Archives: high school softball

State champs dominate all-state softball squads

SM-Tn Sports

Southern Middle Tennessee’s state championship softball programs are well represented on the Tennessee Sports Writers Association all-state teams that were announced this week.

Columbia Academy, the 2021 Division II-A state titlist following a 2019 championship in Class A, leads the way with four DII-A all-state selections. Summertown and Forrest, which claimed crowns in Class A and Class AA respectively during Spring Fling a couple of months ago, each have a trio of honorees.

For the Lady Bulldogs, juniors Myleah Hardy, Karli Quillin and Averi Slaughter were joined by Carson-Newman signee Journey Mitchell. Hardy hit .509 with 10 doubles, 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and 46 runs scored, with Quillin batting .449 and scoring 51 runs while stealing 22 bases on 23 attempts. Slaughter went 24-0 in the circle with an 0.83 earned run average and 220 strikeouts in 126 innings, while Mitchell posted a 15-2 mark and a 1.14 ERA, striking out 144 in 80 innings.

Behind that quartet, CA finished 41-2 and ended the season on a 27-game winning streak.

Summertown’s Kaley Campbell, Hailey Jones and Claire Woods were named all-state along with Loretto’s Briley Dover, Huntland’s Ashtyn Danley and Eagleville eighth-graders Brinli Bain and Addisyn Linton.

Campbell, an Austin Peay golf signee, hit .358 with four home runs and 32 RBIs while compiling a 13-1 record with an 0.66 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 74 innings for the Lady Eagles. Jones and Woods are both set to play softball collegiately – Jones at North Alabama, Woods at Middle Tennessee State. Jones batted .402 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs, while Woods went 21-1 with an 0.67 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 126 innings. At the plate, Woods hit .410 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.

Summertown went 34-2-1 en route to a second Class A state title in four years, to go with its 2018 championship and its runner-up finish in 2019.

Dover hit .542 with eight homers and 37 RBIs to lead the Lady Mustangs to the program’s first state tourney appearance.

In Class AA, Forrest won its second consecutive state tourney and finished 31-4-1 behind its senior threesome of Kentucky signee Jenna Blanton, MTSU recruit Laura Mealer and Walters State signee Ashley Milligan. Blanton batted .600, stole 39 bases and scored 61 runs for the Lady Rockets, while Mealer hit .609 with eight homers and 53 RBIs. Milligan went 23-2 in the circle, posting a 1.03 ERA and striking out 251 in 156 innings.

A third MTSU signee, Keri Munn, earned Class AAA all-state honors for Coffee County.

Earlier this week, the TSWA all-state teams in track and field, tennis, baseball and boys soccer were announced.

The all-state softball teams, in their entirety, follow:

Class AAA

C — Makenzie Henderson, Anderson Co., Jr.; INF — Cayden Baker, Powell, Sr.; Sierra Brown, Walker Valley, Jr.; Hayden Dye, Powell, Sr.; Cameron Young, Farragut, Sr.; OF — Reagan Duran, Siegel, Jr.; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton, Sr.; Avery Strickland, Farragut, Jr.; UTIL — Lauren Brakovec, Farragut, Jr.; P — Avery Flatford, Farragut, Jr.; Keri Munn, Coffee Co., Sr.; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co., Sr.

Class AA

C — Olivia Underwood, Sequoyah, Sr.; INF — Jenna Blanton, Forrest, Sr.; Italia Kyle, Alcoa, Jr.; Laura Mealer, Forrest, Sr.; Abby Shoulders, Macon Co., Sr.; OF — Addy Edgmon, Sequatchie Co., Jr.; Ella Edgmon, Sequatchie Co., Sr.; Lexie Wright, Red Bank, Sr.; UTIL — Mykenzi Duke, Lexington, So.; P — Cadey McDaniel, Lexington, Jr.; Ashley Milligan, Forrest, Sr.; Bailee Phillips, Red Bank, Sr.

Class A

C — Brinli Bain, Eagleville, 8th; INF — Kaley Campbell, Summertown, Sr.; Briley Dover, Loretto, So.; Hailey Jones, Summertown, Sr.; Shelby Sullivan, Sale Creek, Sr.; OF — Ashtyn Danley, Huntland, So.; Zoey Neal, Gibson Co., Sr.; Sophie Theobald, Union City, Jr.; UTIL — Hannah Skiles, Sale Creek, Sr.; P — Campbell Gaby, North Greene, So.; Addisyn Linton, Eagleville, 8th; Claire Woods, Summertown, Sr.

Division II-A

C — Presley Williamson, Boyd Buchanan, Sr.; INF — Aubrey Barnhart, Goodpasture, Sr.; Kayla Clement, Tipton-Rosemark, Jr.; Myleah Hardy, Columbia Acad., Jr.; Brooke Harrison, Tipton-Rosemark, Fr.; OF — Ella Brooks, Knoxville Grace, Jr.; Hailey Brooks, Knoxville Grace, Fr.; Karli Quillin, Columbia Acad., Jr.; UTIL — McCade Cooper, Silverdale Baptist, Jr.; P — Journey Mitchell, Columbia Acad., Sr.; Charli Rice, Tipton-Rosemark, Sr.; Averi Slaughter, Columbia Acad., Jr.

Division II-AA

C — Ansley Blevins, Chatt. Girls Prep, Jr.; INF– Cadashia Collins, Baylor, Jr.; Chapel Cunningham, Chatt. Girls Prep, Sr.; Lauren Kay, Chattanooga Chr., Sr.; Madison Vandergriff, Chattanooga Christian, Sr.; OF — Raven Jones, Baylor, Jr.; Neely Taylor, St. Benedict, Jr.; Addi Yates, Baylor, Fr.: UTIL — Acelynn Sellers, Baylor, Sr.; P — Syd Berzon, Baylor, Jr.; Emily Day, Chattanooga Chr., Sr.; Josie Gex, St. Benedict, Sr.

Chicks dig the long ball: Lady Eagle pair tops list in all-star home run derby

By Maurice Patton

MURFREESBORO — Hailey Jones hit 20 home runs Thursday — 19 to win the Home Run Derby portion of the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association’s all-star event at Riverdale’s Lady Warrior Field, and one to prevent the Middle Tennessee stars from getting swept on the day.

Following her Summertown teammate Claire Woods, who hit 17 homers to take the lead in the slugging exhibition, Jones caught fire from the left side of the plate.

“I knew Hailey was going to beat me,” said Woods, the TSCA’s selection as Class A Miss Softball after a senior season during which she hit seven roundtrippers and batted .410 while going 21-1 with 197 strikeouts in the circle. “I just had a feeling. She kills it. She hits ‘em off me in practice, too.”

While Woods, a Middle Tennessee State signee, was a home run derby veteran — “I’ve never won one,” she said — Jones was a reluctant participant Thursday.

“I’ve never been in one before (Thursday),” the North Alabama recruit said. “I didn’t really want to do it at first, but my mom (Anisha) wanted me to do it. I did it because she wanted me to.”

As Jones said, she “started out kinda slow, but picked it up,” getting into a groove with the help of Lady Eagles coach Greg Burleson, who pitched to both.

Summertown coach Greg Burleson set up his two graduating seniors, Hailey Jones and Claire Woods, to take the top two spots in Thursday’s Home Run Derby as part of the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association’s all-star event at Riverdale. (Photo by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports)

“It helps that Coach Burleson was the one throwing to us,” Woods said. “That’s probably our last time he’ll be able to throw to us. It’s kinda bittersweet.”

Hitting out of the leadoff position primarily for the Class A state champion Lady Eagles, Jones led Summertown with 12 homers while batting .402 on the year.

“I consider myself more an ‘on-base’ hitter – line drives,” Jones said. “I was kinda nervous after (Woods) went up there. I thought, I’ll be happy if I just hit five over.

“When you hit one, it’s just like a repetitive thing. Just keep the same motion.”

Jones and Woods were the lone derby participants to hit more than 10 homers during the competition.

Woods worked the final three innings in the circle, with Jones getting the start at first base as the Middle Tennessee all-stars fell to the East Tennessee contingent 3-1 in the opening contest. The lone run for the Midstate stars came on a first-inning solo home run by Forrest’s Laura Mealer, also an MTSU signee.

Following a second East Tennessee win over the West stars by an 8-2 margin, Woods drew the pitching assignment with Jones in center field for the finale. Woods worked two scoreless innings, along with a triple and a single and two runs scored.

Jones had three hits, including a second-inning double and her seventh-inning solo shot that put the Midstate stars ahead 6-5 after the West team rallied from a five-run deficit.

Once again, though, the West rebounded and tied the game with a run in its final at-bat. Playing with a 1:45 time limit, the 6-6 deadlock at the end of regulation stood as the final score.

Following the game, Jones, Mealer and Forrest’s Ashley Milligan were announced as members of the Tennessee all-star team that will take on the Kentucky all-stars on June 30 at Warren South High School in Bowling Green.

The full list of Tennessee all-stars is as follows:

Aubrey Barnhart, Goodpasture; Delayna Bryant, Powell; Jessica Dennis, Sequatchie Co.; Eden Frazier, Heritage; Ellie Hickman, Rhea Co.; Jade Howard, Brighton; Hailey Jones, Summertown; Laura Mealer, Forrest; Ashley Milligan, Forrest; Kendal Pitts, Maryville; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co.; Mauri Robbins, Sweetwater; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton; Becca Williams, Heritage; Cameron Young, Farragut.

Woods earns Miss Softball kudos as all-star, all-state teams named

SM-Tn Sports

Summertown’s Claire Woods has been named Middle Tennessee Class A Miss Softball by the Tennessee Softballl Coaches Association, and she and teammate Hailey Jones will represent the Lady Eagles in the TSCA All-Star Game scheduled for June 17 at Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro.

The duo led Summertown to a 3-0 victory over Eagleville in the state tournament finals on May 28, marking the program’s second Class A championship in four years along with a runner-up finish.

Woods, a Middle Tennessee State signee, went 21-1 with 16 shutouts, striking out 197 in 126 innings and compiling an earned run average of 0.67 in the circle. She also batted .410 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.

Jones, who has signed with North Alabama, hit .402 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs.

Joining them on the Midstate all-star squad are Jenna Blanton and Ashley Milligan from the Class AA state titlist Forrest Lady Rockets, and Keri Munn and Justus Turner from the Class AAA runner-up Coffee County Lady Raiders.

Munn was named Class AAA Miss Softball for Middle Tennessee by the coaches association.

Columbia Academy juniors Myleah Hardy and Averi Slaughter each received all-state accolades from the association, as did Blanton, Milligan and Laura Mealer from Forrest

The June 17 festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with a contest between the East and Middle stars, followed by a 12 noon home run derby. At 12:30 p.m., the East and West stars will face off, with all-state selections and Miss Softball honorees to be presented at 2:30 p.m. The Middle and West stars will play at 3 p.m. Following the final game, the Tennessee roster for the June 30 Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star Game in Bowling Green will be announced.

All-star, Miss Softball and all-state selections are:

East All-Stars: Shelby Blake, Gibbs; Delayna Bryant, Powell; Hannah Cooper, Grace Chr.-Knoxville; Ella Edgmon, Sequatchie Co.; Eden Frazier, Heritage; Ellie Hickman, Rhea Co.; Kendal Pitts, Maryville; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co.; Mari Robbins, Sweetwater; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton; Courtney Sneed, Soddy Daisy; Brecca Williams, Heritage; Cameron Young, Farragut. Coaches — Jeff Sherman, Heritage; McKenzie Sherman, Heritage; Ashley Day, Heritage; Hillary Love, Jefferson Co.

East Miss Softball: Class A – Kara VonAchen, Coalfield; Class AA – Ella Edgmon, Sequatchie Co.; Class AAA – Avery Flatford, Farragut.

East all-state: Shelby Blake, Gibbs; Sierra Brown, Walker Valley; Breanna Bumgardner, Gibbs; Hannah Cooper, Grace Chr.-Knoxville; Makayla Cooper, Union Co.; Brooklyn Copley, Grainger; Caitlin Dixon, Grace Chr.-Knoxville; Hayden Dye, Powell; Addy Edgmon, Sequatchie Co.; Lainey Fitzgerald, Meigs Co.; Eden Frazier, Heritage; Katie Fultz, Coalfield; Gracie Gray, Hardin Valley; Ellie Hickman, Rhea Co.; Reese Knox, East Hamilton; Hailey Leslie, Walker Valley; Taylor Lloyd, Soddy Daisy; Kennedy Majors, Meigs Co; Kendal Pitts, Maryville; Catelyn Riley, Jefferson Co.; Mari Robbins, Sweetwater; Syerra Rogers, East Hamilton; Hannah Skiles, Sale Creek; Olivia Smith, Heritage; Courtney Sneed, Soddy Daisy; Ally Starnes, Sweetwater; Shelby Sullivan, Sale Creek; Lexie Sykes, Grainger; Allyssa Williams, Lakeway Chr.; Cameron Young, Farragut.

Middle All-Stars: Jenna Blanton, Forrest; Krychet Grigsby, Station Camp; Lauren Hosford, Riverdale; Hailey Jones, Summertown; Jordan Key, Livingston Acad.; Ashley Milligan, Forrest; Keri Munn, Coffee Co.; Killian Roberts, Blackman; Abby Shoulders, Macon Co.; Justus Turner, Coffee Co.; Sydney Weatherford, Clarksville; Ashton Wheeler, Riverdale; Claire Woods, Summertown; Gracelyn Woollen, Clarksville. Coaches — John Conditt, Macon Co.; John Bush, Gordonsville; Christi Bingham, Riverdale.

Middle Miss Softball: Class A – Claire Woods, Summertown; Class AA – Abby Shoulders, Macon Co.; Class AAA – Keri Munn, Coffee Co.; Division II – Aubrey Barnhart, Goodpasture.

Middle all-state: Brianna Asmondy, Springfield; Macauley Bailey, Station Camp; Paige Bagwell, Clarksville Chr.; Shelby Baker, Waverly; Kailey Binkley, Goodpasture; Jenna Blanton, Forrest; Faith Brown, Goodpasture; Cadence Carter, Macon Co.; Macey Ciramella, Middle Tennessee Chr.; Madison Croxford, Station Camp; Kaitlyn Davis, Coffee Co.; Kristen Eversole, Trousdale Co.; Kiya Ferrell, Coffee Co.; Myleah Hardy, Columbia Acad.; Jacey Hatfield, DeKalb Co.; Reagan Hurst, Upperman; Hailey Jones, Summertown; Jordan Key, Livingston Acad.; Sarah Kinderdine, Blackman;  Aliyah Kingery, Clay Co.; Maddie Lee, Trousdale Co.; Esther McFarlin, Riverdale; Macy Meador, Macon Co.; Laura Mealer, Forrest; Elizabeth Miller, Friendship Chr.; Ashley Milligan, Forrest; Sarah Nicholson, Springfield; Kyleigh Pitzer, Wilson Central; Kailey Plumlee, Gordonsville; Mel Pride, Upperman; Killian Roberts, Blackman; Averi Slaughter, Columbia Acad.; Alaina Smith, Lebanon; Breanna Snyder, Northwest; Morgan Walker, DeKalb Co.; Ester White, Waverly; Ester White, Waverly; Avery Woodard, Smith Co.; Gracelyn Woollen, Clarksville.

West All-Stars: Abby Berry, Camden; Nevaeh Davis, Bruceton; Reagan Hamm, Dyersburg; Alix Hampton, Camden; Jade Howard, Brighton; Kalynn Howard, Covington; Ashlyn Gray, Ripley; Laura Kirkpatrick, Trinity Chr.; Lilly Kramer, Trinity Chr.; Ali Naumann, Tipton-Rosemark; Zoey Neal, Gibson Co.; Halle Grace Patton, Hardin Co.; Charli Rice, Tipton-Rosemark; Lauren Vickery, Covington. Coaches — Adam Blackburn, Camden; Chris Peebles, Camden; Justus Cousar, Covington.

West Miss Softball: Class A – Zoey Neal, Gibson Co.; Class AA – Kalynn Howard, Covington; Class AAA – Halle Grace Patton, Hardin Co.; Division II – Charli Rice, Tipton-Rosemark.

West all-state: Abby Berry, Camden; Timily David, Brighton; Nevaeh Davis, Bruceton; Molli Deere, Riverside; Kennadie Gibson, Huntingdon; Anna Gover, Covington; Ashley Gray, Ripley; Raegan Hamm, Dyersburg; Alix Hampton, Camden; Brooke Harrison, Trinity Chr.; Brie Howard, Brighton; Laura Kirkpatrick, Trinity Chr.; Maria Murdaugh, Trinity Chr.; Ava Ozment, Dyer Co.; Josie Sanders, Huntingdon; Chloe Shelton, McNairy Central; Reagon Thompson, Dyer Co.; Pearson Vaugh, Ripley; Lauren Vickery, Covington.

Simply the best: Summertown leaves Class A with softball state crown

By Maurice Patton

MURFREESBORO – Experience on the big stage may have been the difference Friday as Summertown clinched its second Class A softball state championship in four years with a 3-0 victory over Eagleville.

Led by five seniors, Summertown broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning and added single runs in each of its final two at-bats to wrap up a 34-2-1 season and add a title to its 2018 championship – along with a runner-up finish in 2019.

“This feels like what we worked for,” said senior shortstop Kaley Campbell, the last Summertown player to handle the ball as Eagleville’s Elizabeth Cumbee hit a ground ball to second baseman Eryca Abbott that she flipped to Campbell for a game-ending force play.

“We prepared for it. It was our final destination. We put in the work. We just had to come and do what we knew to do.”

Veteran coach Greg Burleson recognized his team – which edged Huntland 2-1 on Thursday to advance to the finals – was pressing a bit early.

“They were really hungry for this,” he said. “Columbia Academy (the 2019 state champion) was great, but it kinda hurt their feelings that we didn’t win. Then we didn’t get to play last year, so they were really excited to get back.

“We had some baserunning mistakes. I felt like we squandered some chances. Then we started playing like, don’t make another mistake. We finally loosened up around the fifth inning.”

Summertown broke up eighth-grader Addi Linton’s no-hit bid as Abbott bunted for a single. Abbott moved up on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on Meg Parrott’s RBI base hit. An inning later, Claire Woods singled and Eagleville misplayed consecutive sac bunt tries to double the margin.

“It may have been nerves, but I really just think things snowballed,” Eagleville coach Bridgette Sanders said regarding her young team’s defensive miscues in the game’s late stages. “We’ve executed this week. They had one bunt that our first baseman dropped, and they kept laying it down. It’s a high-pressure situation; their whole town is here.”

Eagleville (23-10), which managed just four hits against Woods, gave up an insurance run in the seventh as Caiti Beth Gallaher, Jenna Brazier and Woods had consecutive one-out singles before Campbell grounded out. The District 8-A runner-up was unable to counter in its final at-bat.

“She’s a pretty good pitcher,” Woods said of Linton, one of Eagleville’s four eighth-graders in the starting lineup. “She spins it pretty well. We’re a pretty good hitting team. It took us a while to adjust, but once we got it, we got it.”

Just as Columbia Academy moved up from Class A to Division II-A following its ’19 title, Summertown will go to Class AA competition beginning next year.

The fact that Summertown advanced to the state tourney in each chance it had to do so during Woods’ career resonated with her and her classmates.

“We had the opportunity taken away from us (our junior year),” she said. “We wanted to make the most out if it this year.

“I love my team. These girls are my family.”

And quite a successful one. The victory represents Campbell’s sixth state championship, in 13 state tournament appearances, while Hailey Jones will earn a softball ring to go with one from volleyball last fall.

“From winning it our freshman year, to runner-up our sophomore year, to now – we went out with a bang,” Jones said. “I don’t think as a senior you could ask for more.”

It wasn’t just happenstance, Burleson said.

“I’ve been doing this 20-something years, with both baseball and softball,” he said. “This is the hardest-working group of kids I’ve ever had.”

Summertown 3, Eagleville 0

S 000 011 1 – 3 7 0
E 000 000 0 – 0 4 4

Claire Woods and Caiti Beth Gallaher. Addi Linton and Brinli Bain. W: Woods. L: Linton.

By Maurice Patton

MURFREESBORO – Experience on the big stage may have been the difference Friday as Summertown clinched its second Class A softball state championship in four years with a 3-0 victory over Eagleville.

Led by five seniors, Summertown broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning and added single runs in each of its final two at-bats to wrap up a 34-2-1 season and add a title to its 2018 championship – along with a runner-up finish in 2019.

“This feels like what we worked for,” said senior shortstop Kaley Campbell, the last Summertown player to handle the ball as Eagleville’s Elizabeth Cumbee hit a ground ball to second baseman Eryca Abbott that she flipped to Campbell for a game-ending force play.

“We prepared for it. It was our final destination. We put in the work. We just had to come and do what we knew to do.”

Veteran coach Greg Burleson recognized his team – which edged Huntland 2-1 on Thursday to advance to the finals – was pressing a bit early.

“They were really hungry for this,” he said. “Columbia Academy (the 2019 state champion) was great, but it kinda hurt their feelings that we didn’t win. Then we didn’t get to play last year, so they were really excited to get back.

“We had some baserunning mistakes. I felt like we squandered some chances. Then we started playing like, don’t make another mistake. We finally loosened up around the fifth inning.”

Summertown broke up eighth-grader Addi Linton’s no-hit bid as Abbott bunted for a single. Abbott moved up on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on Meg Parrott’s RBI base hit. An inning later, Claire Woods singled and Eagleville misplayed consecutive sac bunt tries to double the margin.

“It may have been nerves, but I really just think things snowballed,” Eagleville coach Bridgette Sanders said regarding her young team’s defensive miscues in the game’s late stages. “We’ve executed this week. They had one bunt that our first baseman dropped, and they kept laying it down. It’s a high-pressure situation; their whole town is here.”

Eagleville (23-10), which managed just four hits against Woods, gave up an insurance run in the seventh as Caiti Beth Gallaher, Jenna Brazier and Woods had consecutive one-out singles before Campbell grounded out. The District 8-A runner-up was unable to counter in its final at-bat.

“She’s a pretty good pitcher,” Woods said of Linton, one of Eagleville’s four eighth-graders in the starting lineup. “She spins it pretty well. We’re a pretty good hitting team. It took us a while to adjust, but once we got it, we got it.”

The fact that Summertown advanced to the state tourney in each chance it had to do so during Woods’ career resonated with her and her classmates.

“We had the opportunity taken away from us (our junior year),” she said. “We wanted to make the most out if it this year.

“I love my team. These girls are my family.”

And quite a successful one. The victory represents Campbell’s sixth state championship, in 13 state tournament appearances, while Hailey Jones will earn a softball ring to go with one from volleyball last fall.

“From winning it our freshman year, to runner-up our sophomore year, to now – we went out with a bang,” Jones said. “I don’t think as a senior you could ask for more.”

It wasn’t just happenstance, Burleson said.

“I’ve been doing this 20-something years, with both baseball and softball,” he said. “This is the hardest-working group of kids I’ve ever had.”

Summertown 3, Eagleville 0

S 000 011 1 – 3 7 0
E 000 000 0 – 0 4 4

Claire Woods and Caiti Beth Gallaher. Addi Linton and Brinli Bain. W: Woods. L: Linton.

Summit softball season comes to close short of state finals

By Lawson Smith

MURFREESBORO — After a tough defeat in extra innings against Farragut on Thursday night, Summit looked to rebound in a Class AAA softball state tournament elimination game Friday morning against Coffee County. 

However, it would prove to be too burdensome, as the Spartan women fell 12-4 — allowing two grand slams in the process — and ended their season against Coffee County.

Pitching was a challenge for Summit, especially without senior pitcher Elena Escobar, who was not in the lineup against the Lady Raiders after suffering an injury in the 5-1, eight-inning loss Thursday that required medical attention.

“She got cleated on a fastball and finished the game without anybody realizing what happened. So she had stitches in her knee right now,” Summit coach Jenny Stevenson said following the loss, which ended the team’s first state tourney appearance with a 25-9 record for the year. 

Filling in for the North Alabama signee in the circle was senior classmate Claudette Runk, who had not pitched since her freshman year as a member of the Summit junior varsity squad.

“She hasn’t practiced pitching,” Stevenson said. “But she came to me and said, ‘Coach, if you need me to pitch I can do it’, and so it was her idea.

“I love that she was willing to be a great teammate, put herself out there for the team. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Runk found herself in the game after starting pitcher Lily Kate Richards allowed four runs over four innings — one on a bases-loaded walk. The senior was unable to escape the situation, as Justus Turner’s grand slam extended Coffee County’s lead to 8-2.

After Runk allowed two base hits and a walk in the top of the fifth, Richards resumed pitching duties. Kaitlyn Davis answered with Coffee County’s second grand slam of the game for a 12-3 advantage, and the Spartans only managed a single run in the seventh.

With the win, Coffee County (34-6-1) is set to face Farragut at 3 p.m. for the state title. The Lady Admirals defeated Coffee County 2-0 Wednesday in the second round of the tournament, before the Lady Raiders bounced back with three straight victories.

Runk, Hannah Sundburg and Aldyn Mathis each had a pair of hits for Summit against the Coffee County tandem of Davis and Keri Munn — the latter a Middle Tennessee State signee.

Series of unfortunate events sends Summit to losers bracket finals

By Chris Yow

MURFREESBORO — A game-long series of unfortunate events culminated for Summit in the eighth inning of Thursday’s Class AAA softball state tournament contest, as Farragut plated four runs in the extra frame to advance to the state finals and send the Spartan women to a Friday morning elimination game.

One of those unfortunate events started the fifth inning when Summit’s Ashlyn Easley safely reached first base on a ball that was ruled fair in front of home plate. Assuming the ball was foul based on where it was hit, she began to return to the batter’s box. A heads-up throw from Lady Admirals catcher Autumn Caywood to second baseman Emily Musco, who applied a tag, earned Farragut the first out of the inning.

“The tricky part is convincing teenage girls to let something go and move on to the next one,” Summit coach Jenny Stevenson said. “I felt like they did a pretty good job moving forward.”

The next inning, a pitch thrown behind Emma Beach’s head hit her bat and landed in fair territory, allowing Farragut to earn another out from a weird play. Summit fans argued the ball hit Beach in the helmet while she was in the box, so Stevenson inquired with her first baseman.

“I asked her what it hit, and she said, ‘My bat,’” Stevenson said. “If one of those things could have gone our way, it would have been nice.”

The Spartans did not do themselves any favors, however, as they stranded 14 baserunners in the game, including 10 in scoring position. 

“I don’t know how many innings it was that we had an opportunity to win, but it felt like six or seven times we were one hit away from getting what we needed,” Stevenson said. “We didn’t take advantage, and their pitcher did a great job in the circle.”

Junior Avery Flatford was dominant at times for the Lady Admirals, going the full eight innings, giving up nine hits but only one run while striking out eight. Summit, meanwhile, started with Elena Escobar, who pitched four innings and gave up a run, but went with Lily Kate Richards in the fifth inning. Richards didn’t give up a run until the eighth inning when she gave up four — two earned — and took the loss.

“Nobody has been able to hit Elena like they did early today,” Stevenson said. “We went with LK because she really has a difficult spin, and it can handcuff heavy hitters.”

Escobar replaced Richards in the final inning and recorded all three outs to give herself a five-inning outing. There wouldn’t have been an eighth inning, however, if not for one timely hit in the bottom of the seventh. Hannah Sundberg doubled to lead off the inning, and down to their last strike of the game, Claudette Runk sent a shot to center field to drive in the tying run. 

That was the only offense the Spartans could muster, though, and they will now face Coffee County in a 9 a.m. elimination game, but only a game away from the state finals.

“Our energy was just different today than it was yesterday,” Stevenson said. “Yesterday it felt like we knew we were going to win, and tonight we were just hoping we were going to win. 

“I don’t know what switched in their minds, but we have to switch back and be confident. We’re not done yet.”