The showdown of the two best teams in District 6AAA lived up to the hype Thursday night.
The Lady Pioneers were able to rally from a six-run deficit to upend Cookeville 13-9, moving into a virtual tie atop the standings.
"We just chipped away after getting behind early," said coach Gooby Martin. "This team has always played to the last out. I love the way they compete and how they respond to our coaching in tough times."
With the way it went early, Warren County (14-4) looked destined to suffer a similar fate as the last matchup with the Lady Cavaliers. Cookeville is the last team to beat the Lady Pioneers, winning 8-1 March 27. The Lady Cavaliers looked just as dominant early Thursday, building an 8-2 lead after three innings against the stunned Lady Pioneers.
Coach Martin gathered his team entering the dugout before the bottom of the third, imploring them to continue to fight.
The Lady Pioneers listened. MaKenna Mason sparked the team with a two-out, bases-loaded single to score two. Grace Rains followed with a single of her own, scoring another to make it 8-5.
Once Warren County got rolling, Cookeville had no way to stop the tide from turning.
Rhealee Johnson stabilized the team in the circle, entering in the fourth and allowing just one run over the final four innings to earn the win. With the freshman shutting down Cookeville, the Lady Pioneers went back to work offensively in the fourth.
A crucial error by Cookeville opened the floodgates. With two on and no outs, Hope Mullican hit a hot shot into right field. What looked to be a single turned into much more when an error allowed both runners to score, along with Mullican to move around to third.
Kyra Hillis followed by blasting a shot into centerfield, scoring Mullican to knot the score at 8-8.
Mason again delivered with two outs to continue the fourth, beating out an infield single to break the tie.
A bases-loaded walk drawn by Hailey Wood later in the inning made it 10-8.
Mullican made sure the Lady Pioneers would have some insurance going into the final inning. The senior capped off a 2-for-4 night with a two-run single in the sixth, scoring Mason and Wood. Mullican scored later on an RBI single by Hillis.
Johnson ran into some trouble in the seventh, giving up three singles - the third an RBI shot to draw Cookeville within four. With two on and one out, the freshman calmly forced a groundout to first to get one out away. Grace Rains was able to end the game when she tracked a liner into center.
Warren County will put its five-game winning streak on the line Thursday in White County at 5 p.m.