MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — East Hamilton's usually stable offense wasn't enough Tuesday to overcome the unstable defense it played against Chester County in its first-round game at McKnight No. 1 in the TSSAA Class AA softball tournament.
The Eaglettes took advantage of several East Hamilton miscues, deflections and drops while playing without errors behind Sammie Jo Ivy, and ultimately they defeated the Lady Hurricanes 12-6.
East Hamilton (25-13-2) will play Greenbrier today at about 1 p.m. EDT at Starplex No. 2.
Chester County (29-11) went ahead on an unearned run in the second inning, but Kelsey Payne erased that with a three-run homer in the third. Seemingly undeterred, and led by four senior starters, the Eaglettes responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
"When they go up 3-1," Chester County coach Brandon Pipkin said, "I was proud of our girls for staying with our approach at the plate. It paid of for us. Experience is why we were able to do that."
The Lady 'Canes battled back within 6-5 in the top of the fifth, but the Eaglettes scored six of the last seven runs with another homer by Payne accounting for East Hamilton's.
"These are the top eight teams in the state," East Hamilton coach Cara Stiles said. "We had a lot of errors and you can't do that here. This was the worst we've played all season. It just so happened to be at the worst time."
Ivy not only was the winning pitcher, but she punctuated Chester County's victory with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, which started with a strikeout in which the runner ended up on second base.
"We took advantage of some mistakes," Pipkin said. "If we hadn't, this game was dead even. We may still be playing."
The runs Ivy allowed were earned, but she did not allow a walk and her 12 strikeouts were the most against East Hamilton in a game this year.
"You come to the state tournament, you've got to expect teams to be able to score a lot on you, especially when you don't have an overpowering pitcher," Stiles said. "Either way, we did not attack the pitches we should have."
Payne was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored for the Lady 'Canes. Maggie Woods was 2-for-3 with a double and scored twice, and Shaliyah Geathers was 2-for-4 and scored once.
• Unicoi County 2, Meigs County 1: The Lady Blue Devils got first- and fourth-inning homers from Tiffany Laughren in winning the Class AA game at Starplex No. 2.
Meigs County (23-12) will play Greenbrier today at 11 p.m. EDT on the same field.
The Lady Tigers got their run in the sixth on a single by Angel Davis. Madison Hampton was 2-for-4 for Meigs, which outhit Unicoi 6-4.
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 email@example.com.