The locally-based Tennessee Fury '97 select softball team won the Amateur Softball Association 14-under national championship, defeating Team Arizona 3-2 in dramatic fashion in the championship game at Souix Falls, S.D.
The Fury went 10-0 in the tournament, which had a field of more than 100 teams. Sunday's championship marked their third one-run victory over Team Arizona — the others in pool play and the winners-bracket final — but none was more suspenseful than the last.
Trailing by a run going to the bottom of the seventh, Fury leadoff batter Jordan Fortel reached on an infield hit and advanced to second on an error on the play. An out later after she had moved to third on a passed ball, Libby Sugg drew a four-pitch walk.
Team Arizona allowed pinch-runner Hallie Davis to take second base, setting the stage for cleanup-batter Hannah Devault, who hit a sinking line drive. Team Arizona's center fielder tried to make a diving catch but was unable to come up with the ball. Both Fury runners scored and the celebration was on.
"You can't imagine the joy those kids felt," said Randy Coppinger, the team's co-head coach along with Keith Perry. "The whole time we were in South Dakota these girls practiced every day. It didn't matter if we played early that day or late. The work never stopped. The mindset of all these kids all week long was to relax and have fun, and they really did."
Brianna Jones was the winning pitcher in six bracket games, including the final where she had 12 of her 65 strikeouts for the week. Devault hit two home runs in the tournament, Davis had a grand slam and Sugg also homered.
The other team members are Baylee Cook, Alyssa Coppinger, Alexis Hull, Sam Scott, Jordan Spicer, Baylee Sutton and Ashton Watkins.
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.