Arts & Sciences overcame several errors in its District 5-A high school softball game Thursday at Grace Academy -- just not enough of them.
Against a program that has won the last five district regular-season championships, the Lady Patriots took advantage of the Lady Golden Eagles' only error. But their own defense was their undoing, and Grace won 2-1.
Grace (20-5), state runner-up the last two years, moves to 5-0 in its quest for another regular-season district title. It needs to win one of its three remaining league games to secure the top seeding for the district tournament.
CSAS (6-14, 1-2) could still end up the No. 2-seeded team. Both district losses are to Grace, 9-1 in the first meeting.
"We knew coming into the season they were going to be the team we were going to have to get past," Grace coach Tina Walker said. "They've played a lot of tournaments with a lot of tough teams. They've got a great schedule and that's to get them better. It has helped them. They're getting better."
Because of the work done by winning pitcher Tori Helton and the Lady Patriots' Liana Rodrigues, hits were scarce Thursday. Both teams ended up with two hits, and by one player.
Kaitlyn Eldridge doubled twice for the Lady Golden Eagles. Her first was in the first inning and came after a dropped throw at first prolonged their time at bat. Two errors on the same play left Erika Goodman on second with two out in the second, and she ended up scoring on another error.
"Some games the real Lady Patriots show up. Other games it's a completely different team," CSAS first-year coach Kristin Holloway said. "We want them to think about 'being my best self today.' Don't worry about the team on the other side of the field. It all goes back to us being young."
Rodrigues pitched around the other Lady Patriots miscues. In six innings she walked one and struck out eight.
"We wanted to apply pressure on them," Walker said. "Rodrigues was on and we really didn't adjust to her very well. All we wanted to do was put the ball in play. It didn't work out exactly like I planned. They made some mistakes from time to time, and we were able to take advantage of some of them."
Kiara Suttles had the hits off Helton, who had 10 strikeouts. Helton's only walk was to Rodrigues with one out in the fourth.
Suttles followed with a drive off the fence in right-center for a single, and she took second when the throw came into third. Rodrigues then scored when a collision led to Grace's error.
Suttles also tripled with two out in the sixth.
"I don't blame it all on the defense," Holloway said. "We left three runners in scoring position. A base hit in one of those situations and it could've been a different ballgame."
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.