Arts & Sciences had given up 26 runs the first two times it played Baylor this high school softball season. But on Friday in the pool-play opener for both teams in Ooltewah's Lady Owls Choo Choo Classic at The Summit of Softball Complex, the Lady Patriots gave up a lot less than that.
Facing a team that had scored in double figures in seven of its last nine games, CSAS defeated the Lady Red Raiders 2-0 in four innings, handing them their first shutout in 20 games.
Host Ooltewah, the only team to play three games Friday, went unbeaten in pool play. Meigs County, GPS and Soddy-Daisy each has started 2-0.
The tournament continues this morning with pool-play games at 9 and 10:30. Based on pool results, teams will be placed in Gold and Silver brackets in the afternoon for single-elimination, which is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. in the Gold and 2 in the Silver. Both finals are set for 5:30.
Liana Rodrigues was the winning pitcher for CSAS (6-11). She worked around six walks, but her six strikeouts were the most in a game against Baylor (18-3) this year.
"Liana was really working her pitches well," said CSAS first-year coach Krisitin Holloway, who passed along credit to her sister and pitching coach Kaity. "She was more disciplined with her location. We didn't want to give them much too early in the at-bat. We wanted to make them work for an at-bat -- make them adjust to us."
One of Baylor's double-digit victories in that recent stretch was 11-1 over the Lady Patriots on Tuesday. The Lady Raiders, who beat archrival GPS 10-4 in a region game Thursday, beat CSAS 15-2 in their second game of the season.
Coach Kelli Smith said Rodrigues pitched well last year against her team in a game that the Lady Raiders ended up breaking open after she was pulled from the game. The coach said she cautioned her players about that before playing Thursday and tried to get them to put the win over the Bruisers behind them.
"Sometimes it's hard to find motivation, especially when you're playing a team you've beaten previously in the week and earlier in the season," Smith said. "She struck out the side in the bottom of the first inning. That doesn't happen to us."
Baylor victimized East Hamilton for 16 hits in three innings in its second outing, winning 14-5 with Noelle Winkles going 2-for-2 with a grand slam and five RBIs. Soddy-Daisy beat CSAS 9-1 and then defeated East Hamilton 8-0 in a late game.
Ooltewah (18-6) defeated East Ridge 9-0, got by Dickson County 5-2 and beat LaVergne 9-3. Taylor Baird was the winning pitcher twice, totaling 14 strikeouts in 10 innings and hitting a grand slam against LaVergne. Taylor Hicks and Kelsey Chernak each had a 3-for-3 game for the Lady Owls.
Meigs County edged Central 2-1 and beat East Ridge 5-1. Jessica Swafford was the winning pitcher in the first game and hit a two-out single in the sixth to provide the lead. Morgan Boggess had the second pitching victory. Alex Dawson provided a spark from the bottom of the order, going 5-for-6 on the day.
"We actually played pretty decent defense and pitched it well," Meigs coach Jeff Davis said. "A win is a win. We'll take them, the way we've struggled offensively lately."
GPS (13-6) beat Walker Valley 8-1 and defeated Boyd-Buchanan 5-4 with Madi Stanley and Corey Swafford earning the pitching wins.
"I thought Madi threw well against Walker Valley, and we hit the ball well against Walker Valley," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "We were fortunate to actually win the second game. We played a little sluggish."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.