MURFREESBORO — Ezell-Harding has relied on the long ball to amass most of its 30 wins this season.
Twenty-five home runs helped the Eagles (30-10) reach another state softball tournament. But on Tuesday, the 12-time champions punched out two sixth-inning runs on three hits, one that never left the infield, and squeezed past Jackson Christian 3-2 in their opening game in the BlueCross Division II-A tournament at Starplex Park.
"Lots of times, we've played for the big inning, hit a home run or two and coast home,'' veteran coach Don Freudenthal said. "We have lived and died by it. [Tuesday], we had to scratch and fight our way out.''
Pitcher Christiana Gable, who has seven home runs, led off the sixth and started the rally with a double. Jeanna Burnett walked and Ashlie Reasonover tied it with an RBI single to center that scored Gable.
Valerie Rivas' infield single to deep short brought in Burnett with the winner.
Shortstop Callen Griffin has a team-high eight home runs but was 0-for-3 in this one.
"I haven't gotten to state since my freshman year, and was going to do whatever it took to get there as a senior,'' Gable, who allowed just two runs in two games in a sectional sweep, said. "I relied mostly on my fastball, and it set up my curve.''
Gable pitched a five-hitter. She allowed two runs (one unearned) in a two-run third but retired the last 10 batters she faced.
Looking toward a possible winners bracket finals matchup with rival Davidson Academy (the Bears play at 10 a.m. Wednesday) she said, "I'd look forward to it, we know about them, and they know about us. It's going to come down to who wants it the most.''
Ezell, which won two of three from Davidson Academy this season, doesn't play again until 10 a.m. Thursday in the winners bracket finals.
• Goodpasture trailed 3-0 early but fought back, tied it and eventually scored the winning run in the top of the 10th to edge Lexington 4-3 in the opener of the Class AA softball tournament.
The Cougars will meet Unicoi County in the winners bracket at 10 a.m. Thursday.
• Evangelical Christian School edged Franklin Road Academy 6-4 and knocked the Panthers into the DII-A losers bracket
• Lipscomb Academy's Jackson Powers edged Christ Presbyterian Academy's Chris Charles in an all-Nashville showdown for the boys Class A/AA decathlon title at the MTSU track. Powers had 6,099 points. Charles finished with 6,041.
Centennial’s Chaz Hawkins won the AAA boys decathlon, and Anthony Dunnavant of Battle Ground Academy placed second in the Division II event.