Some members of the Heritage High School softball program were looking for a few tuneup games this past week before their Georgia high school season gets under way next month. They happened to win a major summer tournament title in the process.
The 16-under Heritage Generals came from behind Saturday and defeated the Ohio Outlaws (Black) 4-3 at The Summit of Softball complex for their age group's championship in the National Softball Association A Division Eastern World Series.
The Tennessee Fury '02 won the 10-under championship Saturday at Warner Park, defeating the Shock, from the Middle Tennessee area, 11-1.
In the 18-under final at The Summit, the Matoon Pride came from the losers bracket and beat the Xtreme Havoc 5-4 and 6-4 in a matchup of Illinois teams. The Lousiana Patriots won the 14-under title at Frost Stadium with a 7-1 victory over Florida's '99 Tanel 360 Bandits, and the Indy Crush beat the (North) Carolina Cardinals 4-3 in the 12-under final at Warner Park.
The Generals are a couple of weekends away from playing their first scrimmage of the high school year, so in preparation for practice beginning this Thursday, they entered tournaments in consecutive weeks. They ended up going 8-0 in the NSA World Series, which began Tuesday.
"We have three mission statements," Heritage coach Steve Chattin said. "One is to be the best you can be every day. Another is to try to get a college scholarship, those that have the ability. The third is to play well enough to win a state championship. That's the only thing this program is missing."
The Outlaws scored first in the 16-under final, rallying for three unearned runs after two were out in the top of the third inning. The Generals struck for single runs in the bottom of the third and fourth innings before consecutive two-out singles in the fifth by Katie Pritchett and Shea Headrick provided the tying and go-ahead runs.
"We just had to regroup," Chattin said. "We had that one bad inning. We've played 13 games in the last nine days, and out of those 13 games we may have had three bad innings defensively. It happened early, so we knew we had time to battle back. If it happens late, it puts you in a bind."
Lauren Lewis was the winning pitcher for Heritage. She gave up five hits and one walk and had four strikeouts.
"Hannah Wills and Lauren Lawson have done a great job pitching the last nine days," Chattin said. "I'd say there's not been a game that Lauren has given up more than one earned run in that time period. I thought she hit her spots very well and kept them off stride."
Headrick went 2-for-3 in the final for the Generals and scored their second run on Ali Roberts' single. Wills went 2-for-4 and had a stolen base. Hannah Mathis tripled and scored Heritage's first run on a double by Olivia Tamewitz.
The Fury fell behind 1-0 in their final but came in and got two runs, then took control by adding four the next inning. Their championship performance was the third time in five double-elimination games they scored in double figures.
"The girls came out focused," Fury coach Pete Hughes said. "They really got after it and swung the bats amazingly."
Hughes said one of the key reasons his team was 7-0 for the week was the work done by the pitching staff of Emma Minighini, Shelby Sullivan and Nikky Yancy, the winning pitcher in the title game. They gave up 10 runs in the tournament.
The 16-under Chattanooga Force also advanced to the final day of play and finished fourth in their age group.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.