published Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

East Hamilton, Grace, Silverdale lose openers

East Hamilton's Mckenzie Mayes, No. 2, connects with the ball during the match against Goodpasture Christian School at Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Tuesday, May 22, 2012.
East Hamilton's Mckenzie Mayes, No. 2, connects with the ball during the match against Goodpasture Christian School at Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Tuesday, May 22, 2012.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — If East Hamilton in Class AA or Grace Academy or Silverdale Baptist in Class A is going to win a TSSAA state softball championship, it will have to come all the way through their losers bracket.

Goodpasture defeated East Hamilton 8-4 at Starplex No. 2 on Tuesday and Forrest beat Grace 4-2 at McKnight No. 3. Trinity Christian won 5-2 in eight innings in Silverdale’s tournament opener at Starplex No. 4.

East Hamilton, making its first state-tournament appearance, trailed 7-0 before settling in. Goodpasture broke the game open with a six-run rally in the second inning.

“We were a little shaky at the beginning,” East Hamilton coach Cara Stiles said. “But we did a good job once we got acclimated. Once we saw we could play with them and got our nerves out, we showed up and played East Hamilton ball.”

Down 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Hurricanes took advantage of a two-out error to score three runs and added another as Amber Phillips doubled and scored on an infield groundout.

“We got up 8-0, and you don’t expect to be up 8-0 in the state tournament,” Goodpasture coach Lee Phillips said. “But they’re a good team. We need to keep that accelerator down.

“Our thought coming in was to put the ball in play. We’ve played that way all year — make contact, put the ball in play. Good things happen when we do that.”

Grace was tied at 1 with Forrest before four Lady Rockets had consecutive hits, the second a double, starting the bottom of the sixth inning. Winning pitcher Brooke Herron and Savannah Brothers, who was 3-for-3, had run-scoring singles. Another scored on one of three Lady Golden Eagles errors in the game when Adrean Jordan, who was in a rundown, jarred the ball loose from a defender’s glove at home plate.

Grace’s seniors are the first four in the order and they’re playing in their fourth state tournament. Each went 1-for-4 with Kaitlyn Eldridge hitting a double and scoring on an error in an inning in which aggressiveness on the bases led to an out.

“Our girls were just too uptight,” Grace coach Tina Walker said. “We didn’t hit the way we could. We didn’t field the way we could.

“They did what they had to do to win it. We did not. We played like we were the new kids on the block. We put too much pressure on ourselves. We’re just going to have to bring it all together now.”

Maddy Horton and losing pitcher Tory Helton were each 2-for-3. Helton doubled in the second inning and homered in the fourth.

“I think she missed her spot,” Forrest coach Becky Cheatham said of the home run pitch. “If we hit the ball, we can afford to miss a spot here and there, as long as nobody’s on base.”

Trinity Christian, which had a three-run top of the eighth, got three hits from Shelby Spurgeon and she had two RBIs and scored twice. Anna Renfroe was the winning pitcher.

Sloane Woodard and Allison Meadows each went 2-for-4 for Silverdale. Woodard scored a run.

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653.

about Kelley Smiddie...

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 ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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