After chopping down two opponents Thursday night – Rhea County, 10-3 and Cookeville, 4-2 – the Lady Pioneers made it to the district championship game, albeit a little tired.
It was Cookeville that cost the Lady Pioneers two more ballgames, having defeated Warren County once in the double-elimination tournament on Wednesday, and it was Cookeville again which defeated the Lady Pioneers, 9-7, in a close 9-inning contest that lasted until after midnight Thursday.
With the game knotted 6-6 after seven innings, both teams scored in the eighth to send the game into a ninth inning where Cookeville would get the breaks taking advantage of some defensive miscues by the Lady Pioneers and garnering 3 hits to push in 2 runs, 9-7.
The exhausted Lady Pioneers didn’t have much left and the Lady Cavs were able to retire the bottom of the ninth 1-2-3 to retain the lead for a championship victory.
“First off I’d like to thank our softball families, friends, and fans,” said WCHS softball head coach Gooby Martin. “Warren County supported us so much this week of the district tournament. It was a great atmosphere and exciting time for our program. They were loud and proud and we were appreciative to get that support.”
“I’m so proud of these young ladies. They battled as hard as they could. We came up a little short in the end but we have no reason to hang our heads. They played with so much heart and determination,” Martin said. “Playing three straight games was tough on us. We started our first game at 5 p.m. and we ended a little after midnight. Not one time did they ever give up. We competed to the very end and I’m proud to coach this team. We travel to Soddy Daisy on Monday and we will be a huge underdog, but I like the way our girls compete and we will show up ready to play.”
Cookeville took an early 4-run lead after 1 inning, but Warren County was steadfast in wanting to win and had its best inning in the third with 4 runs of its own. Madison Mason tripled and scored on a Hailey Wood fielder’s choice ground out.
Neva Tackett then doubled to right field scoring runner Grace Rains followed by a Skyler Youngblood triple that scored Tackett, 4-3. Ashton Whiles singled with a hard shot to left field scoring pinch runner Makenna Mason before the inning ended, 4-4.
The Lady Cavs took a 1-run lead with a score in the fourth, but Warren County scored 2 in the fifth staying 1 run ahead of Cookeville which tied it up in the sixth sending the game into extra innings.
All told, the Lady Pioneers tallied 17 hits in the game, 3 more than Cookeville. Emily Mikkola (1 run), Hope Mullican (1 run) and Kyra Hillis (1 RBI) were all 3-for-5 at the plate and Tackett (1 run, 1 RBI), Youngblood (2 RBIs), Whiles (1 RBI) and Madison Mason (1 run, 1 RBI) all had 2 hits apiece.
Maddie Cantrell started the game in the circle for Warren County pitching 4 innings, surrendering 5 runs, 7 hits, 2 strikeouts, and 1 walk. Whiles entered in relief, pitching 5 innings allowing 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 strikeout and 0 walks.
The Lady Pioneers season isn’t finished as they have qualified for this week’s regionals. Warren County plays at Soddy Daisy High School at 5 p.m. Central.