published Monday, March 18th, 2013

Baylor ends week on top

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    Gordon Lee pitcher Kalei Kimball bats during a game last August.
    Photo by Allison Love.
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Cleveland Lady Raider Classic

At Lee University

Friday's pool play

4--Cleveland vs. Midway; Red Bank vs. East Ridge

5:30--East Ridge vs. Polk County; Cleveland vs. Arts & Sciences

7--Red Bank vs. Arts & Sciences; Midway vs. Polk County

Baylor's up-and-down opening week in the 2013 high school softball season swung back up over the weekend and finished on a high note. The Lady Raiders were 2-1 in pool play, 4-0 in single-elimination play and earned the title in Brentwood High's Lady Bruin Classic.

Baylor had won its season-opener 18-0 over Chattanooga Christian behind a breakout performance by freshman Crosby Huckaby, who exceeded her entire RBI total from 2012 in one game. She played sparingly as an eighth-grader and finished the year with five RBIs. Then on Tuesday, she sandwiched two three-run homers around a run-scoring single.

"Crosby has grown a lot since last year," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "She's a tall kid but she's also put on some muscle. She's really coming into her own. I hope she keeps it up."

But on Thursday, Central's Chasidy Ainslie took some swagger out of the Lady Raiders, at least temporarily, by pitching a shutout against them. Baylor then responded with 12 runs its first game in the tournament, but in its last pool-play game lost by shoutout to Beech.

In a quarterfinal the Lady Red Raiders trailed Columbia Academy 8-0, but scored seven runs after two were out, scored twice the next inning and won. They beat Farragut 10-0 in the final, putting it away with a seven-run fifth.

"I feel like we can be explosive with our power and our speed," Smith said. "We have the potential to score runs. We played good defense, for the most part, but we have a very inexperienced pitching staff. We learned a lot about our pitchers this weekend. This was a good way to get started, coming off that Central loss."

Lauren Lewis went 8-for-17 with six extra-base hits and 10 RBIs and Precious Birdsong was 9-for-18 and scored seven runs. Freshman right-hander Kayla Hughes is one of four Baylor pitchers and was the winning pitcher in the final.

Kingston, Marion champs

McMinn County won its first five games in Meigs County's Lady Tiger Classic at Dayton but fell 8-5 to Kingston in the final of the championship division Saturday. Sequatchie County edged Johnson County 6-5 in eight innings in the consolation-bracket final.

Marion County won 13-2 on Saturday and repeated as champion of Hixson's March Madness tournament, defeating the host school for the second consecutive year in the final.

Alyssa King led McMinn County, going 11-for-16 with a home run, three doubles, six RBIs and six runs scored. Lauren Benson (6-for-15) also drove in six runs. Rachel Lillard went 9-for-19 and had a home run, triple and three doubles for the Lady Cherokees and led them with nine runs scored.

Harlie Jordan hit two home runs in Marion County's championship game, one a grand slam. Winning pitcher Erica O'Kane had a 3-0 pitching record in the tournament. She also homered, doubled and singled and had three RBIs in the final.

Silverdale breaks through

The game was shortened by a time limit, the international tiebreaker was in effect, and Grace Academy didn't pitch its ace. But the only thing that mattered to Silverdale Baptist Academy's Lady Seahawks in their first pool-play game in Hixson's Lady Wildcats March Madness softball tournament Friday was that they beat the Lady Golden Eagles for the first time in Silverdale's eight-year history as a varsity program.

After holding Grace scoreless in the top of the fifth inning, which was an extra inning, tiebreaker runner Kirby Howard stole third, then scored on a wild pitch before the Lady Golden Eagles could get an out and Silverdale won 7-6.

Grace won the Class A state tournament for the first time last season, but the Lady Seahawks also got there for the first time. Silverdale's football team won 10 games for the first time and won its first state-playoff game last fall and the girls' basketball team won its first district championship last month.

"It's another first for Silverdale," Lady Seahawks softball coach Tim Couch said. "We're proud of it. We've had some good games with them; some that have been very competitive. I'm sure we'll have more. I told the girls 'When we win, I want you to act like you've been there before.' We've got to play them again."

The District 5 rivals are scheduled to meet in league games on April 9 and 25.

Lady Raider Classic set

Cleveland will be hosting the Lady Raider Classic softball tournament at Lee University this weekend. Pool play is scheduled to begin on two fields Friday st 4 p.m.

Pool play will be reduced to one field for Saturday morning's three games, the first starting at 9. Action goes backto two fields for single-elimination, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. The champioship game is scheduled at 5.

Cleveland won last year's rain-marred Classic, with eventual Class A state-champion Grace Academy pulling out after the tournament had gotten under way.

"It looks like rain this weekend, too," Cleveland coach Connie Stobert said. "We've got six teams this year, which is a bit smaller, but easier to manage. We can use my field at Cleveland as a backup. If we have to, we can also use the field at Cleveland Middle as a backup."

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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