published Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Busted windshield not all bad at District 5-AAA high school softball game

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    Meigs County pitcher Morgan Boggess and Bledsoe County’s Lydia Richie each went the distance in the teams’ 12-inning game last week. Bledsoe County finally came away with the 5-4 win.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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Leave it to an 8-year-old to find something joyous amid misfortune.

Last Monday, Soddy-Daisy played at Walker Valley in a key District 5-AAA high school softball game. And if it wasn't bad enough for Lady Trojans coach Wes Skiles that his team lost 7-6 and slipped a little further behind the first-place Lady Mustangs in the standings, during the game a foul ball struck his SUV and knocked out the back windshield.

Skiles said for all the driving he's done to baseball and softball parks over the years, that was a first. And although downcast about the situation, he said the team attitude when something bad happens is just to move on.

"That's what insurance is for," he added.

Skiles called his wife after the game to let her know what had taken place and word got to their daughter, Reese, a second-grader at Allen Elementary School. When the coach talked to her, he said her response was, "That's cool! I was running out of things to write about in my school journal."

Dueling right-handers

A 5-4 score may not come across as a pitcher's duel in softball, but it does when the pitcher's go 12 innings and teams can't score for three consecutive innnings with the international tiebreaker in effect.

Such was the case last Monday when Bledsoe County and senior right-hander Lydia Ritchie squared off against Meigs County and junior right-hander Morgan Boggess in Decatur in a Class AA fight to the finish that the visitors won. Boggess held the Lady Warriors scoreless over the first six innings, then they tied it with two in the top of the seventh.

"Actually, from about the sixth inning on I was asking her every inning, 'How are you feeling? I've got another one or two over here I can put in there,'" Meigs County coach Jeff Davis said of Boggess, who ended up giving up 10 hits and striking out seven. "She wasn't about to come out, and I don't think Lydia was either."

After the teams matched runs in the eighth, the pitchers regained control until ultimately Bledsoe's Haley Fugate came through with a two-run single. The Lady Tigers managed one run in the bottom of the 12th and had the tying runner at second base with none out, but couldn't get her in.

Ritchie allowed seven hits and ended the game with her 20th strikeout. Twice before in her career she had 19-strikeout games -- one in eight innings and one in seven.

"Both teams were holding their breath wondering, 'Who's going to break?,'" Bledsoe County coach Ricky Ritchie said. "They put two runs up on us and we got just a little bit lucky and put up two in the top of the seventh. Then we kind of rocked back and forth for another five innings.

"It was fun, but we were worn out."

East Ridge wins counter

Red Bank has outscored East Ridge 19-14 this softball season, but it's the Lionettes who are looking up at the Lady Pioneers in the District 6-AA standings.

The teams met three times in tournaments in March with East Ridge winning 6-1 first in Hixson's March Madness tournament. Red Bank bounced back and defeated the Lady Pioneers 4-0 in pool play in Cleveland's Lady Raider Classic, then beat them 9-2 during single-elimination on the way to the tournament title.

But last Tuesday, the one time the teams play in a district game, East Ridge got a two-run homer in the top of the sixth from Ashley Irvin that lifted the Lady Pioners to a 6-5 victory.

East Ridge coach Sandy Mauser said at the time of Cleveland's tournament her team was undergoing a transition from having a player quit. With players acclimated to their adjusted roles, things have stabilized since.

"It was a good district win," said Mauser, whose team at 3-1 is tied with Central for second place in the district behind 4-0 East Hamilton. "They had great bats in that tournament. They were unstoppable. They hit everything we pitched at them. I think we were more focused this time. Not that they weren't, but I thought we had a lot more intensity this time."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

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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