Baylor looked like a team poised to make a run at its fourth consecutive TSSAA Division II-AA softball state championship Friday as it disposed of Ensworth 18-0 in three innings and 15-2 in five to win the best-of-three quarterfinal series and advance to the state tournament.
The Lady Red Raiders' quest for a title run in Murfreesboro begins when they play rival GPS in the second game of Tuesday's session at about 7 p.m. EDT at the Starplex complex.
Twice Baylor has won three consecutive state championships -- 2003-05 and the last three -- but never four.
"It would definitely be something special to send this senior class out that way," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "As a coach, I know it's just as exciting for our two eighth-graders, our freshmen and we have some new sophomores who have never been to Murfreesboro to experince it."
The matchup with the Bruisers will be the fifth this season. The Lady Raiders won the previous four with two of them by one run and the most recent being 5-3 on May 6 -- the last time they played before Friday.
"When you play somebody over and over, it gets tough, especially when all the games are close," Smith said. "Then there's just the rivalry itself."
Precious Birdsong sparked Baylor (35-3) in the first game against Ensworth with three bunt singles, a stolen base and two runs scored. Haley Andrus homered during a seven-run first inning and Cheyenne Lindsay homered in an 11-run second. Crosby Huckabay was 2-for-3 with a double, drove in two runs and scored three.
Andrus again homered in the second game -- a three-run shot when the Lady Raiders scored nine times in the fifth -- and Lauren Lewis followed with a home run.
Kayla Hughes was the winning pitcher in the first game and Cayley Quinn earned the pitching victory in relief in the second game.
"The kids were excited and ready to play," Smith said. "It had been 10 days since we played GPS. That's a lot of practice days. They knew GPS was already in. We have an opportunity now as one of four teams playing."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter 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 email@example.com.