published Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Lady Red Raiders take control in region

Pope John Paul II experienced the highs and lows of life at the top of the East/Middle Region in TSSAA Division II-AA softball all in one day.

The Lady Knights won 7-2 at GPS on Saturday morning but suffered a 10-1 loss at Baylor in the afternoon.

The loss to the Lady Red Raiders was the first in the region for the Hendersonville school, which despite losing to the Lady Raiders head-to-head still could end up region champion if GPS can win Tuesday at Baylor.

There are more teams from the midstate in the region and they play each other twice with both meetings counting in the standings. Only Baylor (32-3, 6-0) and GPS (19-8, 4-2) represent the East portion of the league and they meet twice, but they play the midstate teams once each.

"They could end up with a higher winning percentage in region games," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said of the Lady Knights. "It's real important that we beat GPS on Tuesday."

Pope John Paul II beat Baylor in the regular season last year, defeated GPS at the state tournament and ended up state runner-up to the Lady Raiders. That ended the Bruisers' run of eight consecutive appearances in the final.

The Lady Knights' victory over GPS on Saturday was more emphatic than the 5-4 one last season.

"We got outplayed all the way around," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "They played very well. When we did hit it well, it was right at them. We didn't play that bad. They just pretty much beat us at every phase of the game."

The Lady Raiders had a four-run third inning against PJPII and were ahead by three before a Haley Andrus three-run homer highlighted a six-run sixth.

"They've got a good team," Smith said of the Lady Knights. "It was a closer game than the 10-1 score. It was 4-1 going into the sixth inning. We had a couple of good things go our way. I think the home run kind of shook them up a little bit, and we went on to have a big inning."

The Lady Raiders defeated Harpeth Hall, another region opponent, 11-0 in five innings in a morning game. Precious Birdsong went 3-for-3 in each game for Baylor with an RBI and a run scored in the first game and a double and two runs scored in the second. Lauren Lewis was 3-for-3 with a grand slam, a double and five RBIs in the opening game.

Winning pitcher Cayley Quinn allowed three hits against Harpeth Hall, and Kayla Hughes limited the Lady Knights to one hit.

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