MURFREESBORO – It’s not every day that you get the chance to tie the game for your team in a state championship, and it’s even rarer to have that chance twice in the same game.
Tana Whited had that chance twice in Friday’s Division II-A state final, and twice she came through with two clutch hits to keep her team alive.
The Lady Commanders went on to win their first state title since 2010 with a wild 11-10 victory in 10 innings over King’s Academy.
“I don’t even have words to describe it,” Whited, a senior said. “That’s a heck of a way to go out, I’ll say that.”
After six and half back-and-fourth innings the Lady Commanders were down to their last inning trailing 7-6 when Whited connected on a pitch and sent the ball flying over the fence for a solo home run to tie the game at 7.
Two innings later, Taylor Weekly homered for the Lady Lions to give King’s Academy an 8-7 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, however, down to their last out again, the Lady Commanders got another big home run – this one from sophomore Brice Dabbs – to tie things at 8-8.
An error in the top of the 10th allowed two King’s runs to score and put the Lady Lions up 10-8.
Whited came to the plate one more time in the bottom of the 10th and tied the game at 10-10 with a two-run single.
“We’ve got one more shot,” Whited said. “That’s what was going through my mind.”
One batter later, Jordan Burton singled to left field to send Friendship home with the walk-off, 11-10 win.
“This is what we’ve been looking forward to all year,” sophomore Dabbs said. “It doesn’t even feel real. We fought our hearts out for this game pitch by pitch. It’s unbelievable. I’m going to remember this forever.”
Friendship head coach Jody Atwood said he felt that kind of game coming.
“This team, unlike any other I’ve coached, is special,” Atwood said. “I’ve told them all year. Somebody had to win this game today, and I’m just glad we did.”
– Sam Brown, The Tennessean
Wilson Central outlasts Dickson County for AAA crown
MURFREESBORO – Wilson Central scored six runs early, and it took every one of them to outlast Dickson County Friday in the Class AAA championship game at Starplex.
The Lady Wildcats held off the defending champion Lady Cougars 6-5 to win their first softball state title.
Wilson Central wasted no time taking command of the momentum going up 6-0 by the end of the second inning, but the Lady Cougars battled back and closed the game to one run after some big hits in the third and fourth.
“After (Dickson County) gave up that sixth run, (Brooklin Lee) dug in. She’s a competitor,” Wilson Central coach Mike Shepard said of the Lady Cougar pitcher. “But our defense made some plays and just very proud of the girls.
“They had so much fun this year as a team, bonding and coming together and that meant more than wins and loses ever could.”
The Lady Wildcats went unbeaten in the postseason to end their season 40-7-1 while Dickson County (43-6), last year’s state champs, battled their way out of the losers’ bracket before settling for second.
Wilson Central pitcher Hannah Bodenhorn got things rolling for her team, striking out two Dickson County batters to cut the top of the first inning short for the Lady Cougars.
In the bottom of the inning Claire Smith led off with a walk and later stole home for a 1-0 lead. Katie Eakes drove home another run on a bunt.
The Lady Wildcats struck for four more in the second. With the bases loaded, Brooke Pfefferle hit an infield grounder that resulted in an error at the plate, plating three runs. Eakes’ RBI-single made it 6-0.
Dickson County didn’t go quietly, however, plating three runs in the top of the third. Ashley Scott, Lee and Keely Buchanan each drove home runs to cut the deficit in half.
Scott cranked another big hit, a two-run double in the fourth, to cut the lead to 6-5.
“I couldn’t ask for them to play any better,” Dickson County coach Shane Buchanan said. “Wednesday we didn’t have a real good day and think that put us into a hole. We almost dug ourselves out but it was just too big of a hole…but they never quit, never gave up. They continued to fight. I’m proud to be part of them.”
Defense dominated the last three innings and Wilson Central’s big, early lead held up.
– John Bailey, Gannett Tennessee
Forrest captures second state title
MURFREESBORO – In 2008 a fifth-grader named Savannah Brothers watched the Forrest softball team win the Division I Class A state title and said one day she would do the same.
Seven years later she lived up to that promise.
Brothers and the rest of the Lady Rockets defeated Knoxville’s Grace Christian 7-3 in the Class A championship game Friday afternoon to earn the program’s second state title.
“I’ve wanted this since I was 5 years old, ever since I could pick up a bat,” said Brothers, a senior catcher. “This is what I wanted right here.”
While Brothers’ goal has been seven years in the making, Forrest set its goals for this season after falling in the second game of the state tournament last year.
“We set our goals early,” said Forrest coach Becky Cheatham. “They decided that they have worked too hard to be denied and they’ve accomplished their goal, and I am happy for them.”
Forrest and Grace Christian were tied early, both on RBI-doubles, by Samantha King (Forrest) and Jessica Webb (Grace).
The tie didn’t last long. Forrest added two runs in the second on a Brair Mayes single.
In the third inning the lead increased to 5-1. A walk to begin the inning started the rally.
Fielding issues plagued Grace Christian as the Lady Rocket continued to add more insurance on the board with a one apiece in the fourth and sixth.
Grace Christian was able to strike back with two in the sixth inning, but that’s as close as it got.
“I am just so elated for this group of girls. They’ve just been the best group of girls I’ve ever worked with and they deserved this,” Cheatham said.
– Autumn Allison, The Tennessean
Walk-off helps Dickson County reach title game
MURFREESBORO – Dickson County has been involved in some long softball games during Spring Fling
The longest of those is thus far the most rewarding.
A hit to center by Keely Buchanan drove home the winning run to end a 12-inning, three-hour softball game between the Lady Cougars and Ooltewah in the losers’ bracket finals of the AAA state tournament Friday morning at Starplex.
With the 6-5 win, the Lady Cougars move on to face Wilson Central in the state championship game at 3 p.m. If Dickson County wins that game, another title contest will be played at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“I thought we’d hit better and you have to give them credit they’re a heck of a team. The top of their line-up is just great,” Dickson County head coach Shane Buchanan said. “Somehow we recovered and we had our chances and they had chances, and it was going to be who made the last big hit and fortunately we got that last big hit.”
Ooltewah scored in the top of the first. Ashley Scott event things for Dickson County with a home run in the bottom of the second.
An Allie Jones RBI-single and Tiera Leman’s steal of home gave the Lady Cougars a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
Ooltewah came right back, knotting the score at 3 the next inning to ultimately send things into extra innings.
Ooltewah took a 5-3 lead in the 11th (with the teams playing international tie-breaking rules). Allie Jones hit a two-run single.
However, Ashley Scott answered with a two-run single to again tie things and send it to the 12th, setting up Buchanan’s walk-off heroics.
“We play hard every game,” Ooltewah head coach Jon Massey said. “(Dickson Co.) had a little more speed than we do, probably the home runs, doubles, balls probably evened out…our (pitcher) didn’t have her drop ball working so we handicapped ourselves there.
“Dickson County is a good team. They don’t beat themselves. They make the plays they’re supposed to make and move on.”
– John Bailey, Gannett Tennessee
Friendship forces second title game on Perry’s blast
Courtney Perry made sure Friendship Christian fought to live one more championship game Friday morning.
Petty’s walk-off home run in the seventh gave the Lady Commanders a 3-2 win over King’s Academy to extend the DII-A championship to another game.
The two teams will play again at 3 p.m. Friday for the state championship.
Friendship, which scored all its runs on solo homers, had previously lost to King’s 10-0 on Thursday to make the second game necessary.
“I guess you live and die by the long ball, so to speak,” said FCS coach Jody Atwood. “We don’t necessarily preach that. But we just got some good pitches and the girls took advantage of that.”
Taylor Weekly’s lone home run in the first inning gave The King’s Academy the lead. The advantage grew to 2-0 when Haydyn Jenkins brought in a run on a bloop single.
In the fourth inning, Friendship Christian cut into the lead when Tana Whited hit a home run to center field to bring the score 2-1.
Just two innings later the Lady Commanders tied the score off a Brice Dabbs shot over the left field fence, tying things at 2.
– Autumn Allison, The Tennessean