CORRYTON — A road trip of only 28 miles was the good news for the Grainger Lady Grizzles in their Class AA Sectional game on Friday night. But the bad news was that short trip meant they had to face one of the most dominating teams in Tennessee softball history.
The Lady Grizzlies hung around early and allowed only one hit to Gibbs through the first three innings, but the 10-time state champions used a big fourth inning to build a comfortable cushion and never looked back as they downed Grainger 7-0.
The Lady Eagles advanced to next week’s TSSAA Spring Fling in Murfreesboro where they will vie for their 11th title.
“They let us hang around and we were only a hit or two away early,” Grainger head coach Rusty Bishop said after the game. “If we could have plated a run or two in the first or second inning, you never know what happens.”
Gibbs picked up its first two runs when Megan Turner broke for home when the Lady Grizzlies had Josie Huff, who reached on an error, stuck between first and second base in the first inning and run number two was scored by Turner in the third when she came home from third on a sacrifice fly to center by Bailey Reagan.
“We kicked one at second base in the first inning and kind of had a bone-headed play at first and third to give them a run but I was very proud of our girls as they battled. It wasn’t the result we wanted but it was still a great season,” Bishop stated.
Lady Eagles pitcher Rayna Pendleton picked up the win a she allowed only three hits in the contest. Bishop said the lack of production at the plate in the last several games has been problematic for his squad.
“Our bats went cold,” he said. “We hit it pretty well on Monday (against Sullivan East) but four of our last five games, our bats went cold and that haunted us.”
Emily Agee reached on an error to start the game for Grainger and Abigail Richie was hit by a pitch but both runners were stranded. The Lady Grizzlies had two runners aboard again in the second frame as Millie Hurst singled to center and Gracie Hill was plunked by a pitch, but once again, Grainger could not capitalize.
Grainger was in the game as it went to the fourth inning as they only trailed 2-0 but the Lady Eagles’ finally got their offense in gear and scored four runs to take command of the contest. Pendleton walked and was replaced by pinch runner Kaleigh Caldwell. She scored on Madison Watts’ sacrifice to make it 3-0. With one swing of the bat, Dacey Jenkins sent a home run over the fence in centerfield to balloon the lead to 4-0. Shelby Blake singled and came home on Huff’s single to right field. The fourth run of the fourth inning for Gibbs was produced when Turner came home on a bang-bang play at the plate.
“If you told me before the game we would only been down two going to the fourth inning, I probably would have taken that,” Bishop said of his team’s fortunes through the first three innings. “But that home run was big for them but we battled, made Gibbs play all seven innings so I am proud of our grit.”
After going in order in the third and fourth innings, Grainger got Agee on with a single to center and Lexie Sykes on with another single but any hopes of a rally diminished. Gibbs added one additional run in the fifth when Bre Bumgardner reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second base and came around to score on Watts’ RBI single to right.