MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Brianna Taylor flirted with no-hitters in Arts & Sciences' softball region championship game and its state sectional. On Tuesday, in the first state-tournament game in program history, she flirted with perfection.
But two outs away from the Lady Patriots advancing, Taylor got a pitch in too tight on McKenzie's Jessi Elliott and hit her. Then the senior right-hander got a pitch not far enough away from Emma Arnold, whose opposite-field home run over the right-field fence lifted the Lady Rebels to a 2-1 victory at Starplex No. 4.
CSAS (25-11-1) plays today at 11 a.m. EDT on the same field against the loser between Knoxville Grace and Columbia Academy.
Taylor retired the first 19 Lady Rebels batters she faced before hitting Elliott.
"We were getting behind in the count quickly," McKenzie coach Rebecca Jones said. "Then I felt like we were trying to outperform, and outdo, and we started swinging at bad pitches."
Eight of Taylor's 10 strikeouts were in the first four innings.
"We stayed up in the dugout until about the fifth inning, and we started getting down a little," Arnold said. "The sixth and seventh we started making better contact. Then we finally did something."
Taylor also lost no-hitters in the seventh innings in each of her last two starts, but both of those were CSAS wins.
"It took them 21 at-bats before they hit anything solid," coach Kaity Holloway said. "Bri has given up three hits in her last 21 innings. They were able to beat us with one swing. Congratulations.
"This loss isn't going to take us out of our game. We'll get some rest tonight, wake up and go play ball tomorrow."
Winning pitcher Brooke Baucum allowed six hits and three walks and hit three batters while totaling 10 strikeouts.
The Lady Patriots' run came in the top of the fourth inning, starting with Brittany Patmon drawing a walk. After a sacrifice bunt, Gabi Queener was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Bri'Ana Park hit a fly that fell in front of oncoming right fielder Madison Green for a single, and Patmon scored.
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.