GPS’s Morgan Lane will have some explaining to do next week in Murfreesboro. People will be asking her why she has a pink streak in her hair.
The Bruisers earned a trip to the Division II-AA high school softball state tournament by defeating Father Ryan 12-2 in five innings and 10-5 in seven Friday in a best-of-three sub-state series at GPS.
The state tournament starts Tuesday. All Division II play will be held at Starplex No. 3.
Lane was challenged to dye a strand of hair pink should any of the Bruisers hit a home run Friday, and the junior first baseman accepted. She then went out and crushed a pitch over the fence for a three-run homer in the fifth inning of the second game.
“I really don’t like dying my hair,” Lane said. “I’m never going along with that again.”
She got no sympathy from the team.
“She did it to herself,” GPS coach Susan Crownover said.
Actually, Lane proved to be a one-person wrecking crew to Father Ryan pitcher Emily Sochovka’s earned run average. She went 6-for-7 batting in the cleanup spot, hitting for the cycle over the course of two games, and totaled nine RBIs.
“I was feeling it,” Lane said. “We were all ready to play.”
Lane missed practically all of last regular season with an arm injury suffered in an early-season collision at first base. She was back in time to help the Bruisers win their fourth consecutive state tournament but said she hadn’t picked up a bat from the time she was injured until then. After Friday’s performance, she’s ready for the tournament to start now.
“If we play like we did today,” Lane said, “we’ve got a chance.”
GPS (15-13) did not score in its first two at-bats against the Lady Irish but afterward scored in every inning but one until the last one.
“It took us a little while to get going,” Crownover said. “It’s been a while since we played.”
The Bruisers’ winning pitchers, Corey Swafford and Madi Stanley, got plenty of support, and not just offensively. Third baseman Stephanie George turned a diving catch of a pop fly into a double play in the first game. Coach’s daughter Kelby Crownover got to her feet quickly and threw a runner out at first after making a diving stop at shortstop in the second game.
“We had some outstanding ones,” Coach Crownover said of the defensive plays. “We can beat people when we show up and play both sides of the game.”
Madison Boyd was among the day’s offensive leaders with a 5-for-7 performance for GPS that included a triple in each game. She drove in four runs and scored five.
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.