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Lady Pioneers continue postseason push
Photos courtesy of Painted Barn Media Ali Young makes a defense play in the sixth to seal a win for WCMS Wednesday.

Only eight teams are still playing softball in the TMSAA. Warren County is one of those elite squads left battling for the title of best in the state.

The Lady Pioneers pushed their way into the sectional finals Wednesday, beating Siegel 5-3 on their home field. Warren County, which has won 9 of its last 10 games, is now one win away from the Final Four and an elusive berth into the TMSAA state tournament.

Ruby Denning provided the big spark to beat Siegel, hitting a 3-run homer in the first to give the Lady Pioneers all the momentum. Nevaeh Duggin made the lead stand up late, going the distance for the win while Brynlee Chisam and Kaydence Wiser each had key RBIs down the stretch.

“Early in the year, Ruby is probably taking a 3-0 pitch, but she was sitting on a fastball and got it,” said coach Joe Damon about giving the green light to his big slugger in the first. “We’ve never gotten a break from seeing good competition this year. We’ve played Siegel, Stewarts Creek, Lincoln County – we’ve been in these games, know what it takes to win and I think that made a big difference.”

Denning’s big blast came after Warren County drew a pair of walks to begin the game. Free passes would play a part in the Lady Pioneers padding their lead in the fifth as Chisam drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-3.

Wiser slapped a two-out single in the fourth, bringing around Ali Young after she started the frame with a single of her own.

Strong defense behind Duggin’s mastery in the circle sealed the deal. Reese Reinitz had a running grab in left in the seventh and Alexia Ross showed off her cannon at short to end the game on a grounder, but Young’s heads-up defense in the sixth may have changed the game.

Siegel had a runner on third and was close to making it a one-run game with one out, but Young erased the threat with some savvy defense. She fielded a slow grounder moving left and pump-faked a throw to first to get the runners moving. When Siegel’s runner broke for home, Young spun around and caught her in a rundown, with Ross ultimately finishing off the play by tagging the stumbling runner near the plate.

Wiser corralled a pop up at the plate two pitches later and the inning was over for the Stars.

“Ali has probably done that same move 500 times in practice and finally got the opportunity to do it live. Nobody thinks those reps may be worth it when you’re out there sweating every single day in practice, but she’s done it over and over and knew what to do,” said Damon.

Warren County will face a familiar foe with a bid to the state tournament on the line Friday. The Lady Pioneers will travel to Manchester to face Coffee County for the fourth time this season. Warren County is 2-1 against the Lady Raiders this year, including beating them 5-4 for the Area 6 championship last week.

“It’ll come down to how we swing it. Our defense and pitching is consistent. If we come out hitting, we’ll have a chance,” said Damon.

First pitch Friday is set for 5 p.m.