MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Selena Leon, Greeneville's center fielder and only senior, robbed Sequatchie County's Allyson Davenport of a go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh inning Thursday at the Starplex No. 2 field. As a result, the Lady Greene Devils were able to defeat the Lady Indians 3-2 in a losers-bracket game in the TSSAA Class AA state softball tournament.
"That's the black hole," Greeneville coach Bob Fortel said of the vast territory Leon covers. "That's where balls go to die. If there's any air under it, she's going to catch it."
However, the catch, which came after Katelynne Cheatham had singled with one out, was not without some controversy.
The ball did land in the leaping Leon's glove, but then she fell into, and ultimately over, the temporary fence -- which all the Starplex fields have. The umpires conferred, ruled it a catch and awarded Cheatham a one-base advancement.
"It was caught in the field of play," Fortel said. "That's an out. That's an extra base. That's the rule. No argument."
Sequatchie County coach Kelly Somerville said she and her team could've done more throughout the game to avoid being in that position. The Lady Indians had 11 hits compared to the Lady Greene Devils' five. But she did have some criticism regarding the field.
"We played the game," Somerville said. "We have to take responsibility. I do not blame the umpires. They made the ruling that they thought was right. What I can be upset about it is playing with temporary fences at the state tournament.
"I'm not happy with the setting. This is the highest level of high school softball. If that had been a real fence, that would've been a home run. That would've changed the game. Maybe we wouldn't have won, but that would've changed the game."
Madi Presto went 2-for-3 and drove in the Lady Indians' second-inning run, and Cheatham had a bases-loaded walk in the first. Davenport and Shiann Stockwell each went 2-for-4 for the Lady Indians.
Greeneville (32-6) got two runs in the second and scored the go-ahead run in the fourth.
Somerville, in her first year as head coach, was a sophomore at Sequatchie in 2000, which was the last time the Lady Indians were region champions before this season. Additionally, Sequatchie (24-14) did not lose a game to a District 7 opponent this season on the way to that championship.
Somerville has coached at the middle school level and been a high school assistant since returning home five years ago. She said she expected great things from then-eighth-graders-now-seniors Cheatham, Ashley Moffitt and Presto, and they sparked the run to the fifth-place finish at the state tournament.
"They didn't realize, back then, their potential," Somerville said. "They didn't like it when I yelled at them. I gave them unrealistic high expectations, and they fought against me. But they not only met them, they exceeded them. The season's over. Now is the time to be proud of what we accomplished."
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.