MURFREESBORO – Her team was the proud new owner of another state title to go with the 2008 model, but Davidson Academy softball coach Stacy Swinea didn’t hesitate for a second when asked to compare which was sweeter.
“This one’s sweeter, without a doubt – I’ve got a lot of seniors over there,” she said, pointing to a group of celebrating Lady Bears. “For one thing, graduation’s (Saturday), and we didn’t want to have to come back and play again.”
Davidson Academy defended its state title, winning the Division II-Class A crown with a 3-1 win over SBEC in Murfreesboro. The Bears finished their season 28-13-1, capped by one state tournament victory over FACS (11-0) and two over the Lady Trojans by identical scores.
In their ultimate contest the Lady Bears led from the beginning. The first batter of the game, Holly Beth Jones, scooted all the way around the diamond with the help of two SBEC errors to give her team the lead. Courtesy runner Alex Gipson scored on a fielder’s choice in the second inning, pushing the lead to 2-0.
That was all the offense Lady Bears starting pitcher Holly Hockaday needed. The freshman allowed only three hits and didn’t walk a hitter. She struck out 16.
Jones added another run in the sixth when she advanced to second on a passed ball, then stole third when the ball got away. That gave the Lady Bears a 3-0 lead.
Still, SEBC (25-3) didn’t go down quietly.
The Lady Trojans scored their only run in the bottom of the seventh and put runners in scoring position. But Hockaday struck out consecutive batters to end the game.
“(Hockaday) and Marissa (Martin) are really both No. 1 pitchers, but Marissa’s been hurt,” Swinea said. “Holly’s been hurting with her back, too, and she didn’t pitch until this week. We had another freshman (Savannah Hill) pitch for us in the region, and she did a great job for us.”
GOODPASTURE 2, UNICOI COUNTY 1
Goodpasture’s softball team still has a shot at its seventh heaven.
The Lady Cougars’ quest for a seventh straight Class AA state softball title stayed alive as Goodpasture scored in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Unicoi County 2-1 Friday night at StarPlex in Murfreesboro.
The teams will play 10 a.m. Saturday in a winner-take-all game at the same site.
The rubber match will undoubtedly by a matchup of the two best teams in Class AAA: Unicoi County is 47-4; Goodpasture is 42-4-1.
“It’s an honor to play Unicoi County,” Goodpasture coach Lee Phillips said. “We said we wanted to be playing in the last game of the year. It was a harder road this time, but the kids came through.”
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Kelsey Cartwright smacked a double to center field. After the Blue Devils intentionally walked Megan Bryant, Unicoi County pitcher Kara Woods got a strikeout, bringing up Mackenzie Leding.
Leding poked a single to right field, bringing home Cartwright and giving the Cougars a victory by the same score they had lost to Unicoi County earlier in the tournament.
Unicoi County had tied the game in the top of the seventh when Ali Gardner hit a leadoff homer. It was the only run allowed by Lady Cougar hurler Cheyanne Knepper, who allowed only four hits, walked one and struck out eight.
Goodpasture’s other run came in the third when Bryant’s two-out double brought home Brittany Elmore.