Losing late leads is becoming a bad habit for the Lady Pioneers.
Warren County allowed Cookeville to rally Tuesday night, leading to an 8-7 loss in the pivotal District 6AAA matchup.
“We can’t give teams five outs in an inning,” said coach Gooby Martin. “We have to play better and close out games. We have to play smarter and eliminate mental errors.”
Warren County (6-6-1) carried a 7-4 lead into the seventh inning, one it earned by scoring seven unanswered runs after falling behind 4-0 early. The Lady Pioneers had the chance to close out Cookeville and put themselves in the driver’s seat in the district standings, but errors proved costly.
Warren County had a dropped third strike in the final inning, along with a critical error on a grounder. Adding to a few missed chances to make plays on fly balls, the Lady Pioneers saw Cookeville plate four runs late and steal the victory.
It was an all-too-familiar feeling. Warren County has been tied or held the lead in the last two innings of three of its six losses. Four of the team’s six losses have been by one run.
Freshman Madison Hollis took the hard-luck loss in the circle, one Martin believes wasn’t because of her effort.
“Madison pitched her tail off and we have to win that one for her. She pitched great and we have to make plays late to win games,” said Martin.
Warren County trailed 4-0 entering the third inning, but the team’s slugging came through in a big way to swing the game.
Ashton Whiles continued her power surge by connecting on a two-run home run, making it 4-3 after Emily Mikkola started the scoring with a RBI double. It was Whiles second long ball in as many games, giving her 16 in her career – one shy of tying the school record.
Hollis helped her own cause moments later, hitting a skyscraping solo home run to centerfield to knot the score.
Juniors Calyn Damon and MaKenna Mason capped the rally, connecting on RBI singles to push the Lady Pioneers ahead 6-4.
Rhealee Johnson made it a three-run lead in the fourth, drilling a line drive into left field to score Mikkola.
Warren County finished with a season-high 15 hits, one positive from an otherwise tough outing.
“We swung the bats well. That’s a plus from the game,” said Martin. “We have to keep it going for more than a couple innings, but it’s good to see us swing it well.”
Johnson finished with three hits, while Mikkola, Whiles, Hollis, Damon and Mason all had two apiece. Elia Atterson and Grace Rains added one hit each.
Warren County will be back in action Tuesday, April 9 at Stone Memorial. The first pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.