Emily Dagnan, 16, watches herself in a mirror as she shadowboxes at the Westside Boxing Club on Central Avenue during a workout. She says she's been boxing since the age of 11, and caught the boxing bug from her father and older brother. Staff Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press
DUNLAP, Tenn. — Emily Dagnan is a promising boxer, but she delivered a different kind of knockout blow Monday.
It was scoreless in the fifth inning when Dagnan hit a three-run home run deep to left-center for host Sequatchie County, which defeated District 7-AA regular-season champion Bledsoe County 6-1 in the tournament final.
Sequatchie (20-5) will host the District 8 runner-up Monday in a Region 4 semifinal. Bledsoe County (24-11) will visit the District 8 champion.
The defenses behind Sequatchie pitcher Brooklyn Girdley and Bledsoe’s Faith Forgey prevailed until the bottom of the fifth when throwing errors on back-to-back plays — the second being Ashley Moffitt’s sacrifice bunt — left Lady Indians on the corners. After a popout, Dagnan came to the plate having already gone 2-for-2.
Dagnan said her approach to the at-bat was nothing more than looking for a strike. She evidently found one to her liking, put the sweet spot of the bat on it and launched it.
“At first I told her to tag up,” Sequatchie coach Courtney Stewart said in reference to baserunner Meredith Mitchell. “Then I looked up and said, ‘No, go on.’”
Someone made the long trek to retrieve the ball, which was in Dagnan’s possession after the game.
“I knew it was over when I hit it,” she said. “I hit it good. I’ve got a shelf in my room with all my all my other home run balls and trophies. It’s going up there with the others.”
Dagnan wound up 4-for-4 and drove in one of the three additional runs in the sixth. Mitchell hit a sacrifice fly and Chasity Carlton drove in the other when she hit into a force play. Payton Carlton went 2-for-3 and scored one of the runs in the sixth.
“Last year we kind of played our best ball early in the season,” Stewart said. “We peaked about April. We just talked about it at the beginning of the year. I hope we can keep this up. We’ve been hitting the ball all year.”
The husband-and-wife coaching tandem of Ricky and Janice Ritchie chose not to pitch their daughter, Lydia, with Ricky’s reasoning being, “They had seen her three times.” He had no complaint about Forgey’s pitching but wasn’t pleased about the Lady Warriors’ four errors.
“We’re just not hitting,” he said. “We’re stranding runners at third base. Our defense is killing us. We’ve got this week to get it corrected.”
Lydia Ritchie, who was 3-for-3 with a double, singled in the seventh between singles by Victoria Roberson and Ashley Brown. Roberson scored Bledsoe’s run, and Brown got the RBI.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.