The high school softball teams at Baylor and Arts & Sciences got to know each other well over the last three days. And as things turned out in the championship game of Baylor's Hits for Hope tournament at Warner Park, that was a little too well for the Lady Patriots' liking.
The combination of the Lady Red Raiders getting a third look in as many days at CSAS pitcher Brianna Taylor, plus Taylor making her sixth start of the day, was a key reason Baylor was able to defeat the Lady Patriots 13-2 in five innings.
This is the second year of the tournament and the second year Baylor has won it.
CSAS beat the Lady Raiders 5-3 in a non-tournament game Thursday and had a 2-1 lead over them in a pool-play game Friday before giving up an unearned run in the final inning for a tie.
"We finally hit the ball, and we executed our bunts," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said of her team's success against the Lady Patriots in the final. "That's it in a nutshell completely."
Baylor (19-3-1) scored four runs in the first inning and added three in the second. CSAS coach Kaity Holloway pulled Taylor during the Lady Raiders' six-run third.
"We made some adjustments," Smith said. "I know she threw a lot of softball today. She probably had to be tired. We wanted to be aggressive in the strike zone, which is something you want to be all the time, but particularly in this instance."
It was Taylor's eighth outing in the last three days.
"She pitched her heart out," Holloway said. "You put a kid that's pitched that much against an offense like Baylor has, and it's not a good situation. She did everything she could."
The top four in Baylor's batting order combined to go 10-for-11 with 10 runs scored and nine RBIs before Smith began making substitutions. Haley Andrus was 2-for-2 with a double and five RBIs.
Lauren Lewis and Precious Birdsong were each 3-for-3. Lewis doubled twice, drove in three runs and scored two, and Birdsong had an RBI and scored three times.
A.J. Johnson was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Noelle Winkles, who scored twice, and Kamri Rich were also 2-for-3 for the Lady Raiders.
Mercedes Benn had a bunt single and scored a run and Kiara Suttles had an RBI single during a two-run third inning for CSAS (10-6-1).
"Since Thursday I feel like we've come a long way," Holloway said. "We still haven't gotten the big hits back-to-back-to-back like we're used to, but we've been getting some clutch hits. I know we won two games today in our last at-bat. We grew up a little bit today."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.