Tayana Fernandez of GPS slides late into second base as St. Benedict's Morgan Patrick tags her out during their game in Murfreesboro Tuesday. Staff Photo by Jake Daniels, Chattanooga Times Free Press
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A team that had a .500 record heading into last weekend’s best-of-three sub-state series has sent a message.
Don’t count GPS out of the state softball tournament just yet.
The Bruisers struck for two runs in the first inning in Tuesday’s opener at Starplex No. 3 and defeated St. Benedict 7-4.
GPS (16-13) advances to Thursday’s Division II winners-bracket final against the winner of today’s game between Baylor and Pope John Paul II at 11 a.m. EDT.
Morgan Lane, who went 6-for-7 with 12 total bases in the Bruiser’s sub-state sweep of Father Ryan, picked up where she left off and hit an RBI double in her first at-bat against the Lady Eagles. She ended up 2-for-2 with walks in her other plate appearances and had two RBIs and a run scored.
Madison Boyd’s one-out double got the early uprising started, and Katy Richardson singled her in. Then winning pitcher Corey Swafford went to work.
“That enabled us to relax a little bit,” GPS coach Susan Crownover said. “It especially relaxes the pitcher.”
St. Benedict (30-18) closed within 4-3 with a three-run fifth, but the Bruisers answered in the top of the sixth. Pinch hitter Tayana Fernandez reached on an infield single with a throwing error tacked on and scored when Kelby Crownover’s squeeze bunt was mishandled. Boyd added an RBI triple and Richardson followed with a double.
“At the state tournament to answer a rally like that is a big sign of maturity,” Coach Crownover said. “Corey hung in there and made some big pitches. I’m really big on answering somebody when they score. It’s easy to get down quickly for a young team.
“You have a new team every year. This team is especially new.”
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.