Whereas Marion County did what was expected, South Pittsburg pulled a bit of a surprise Monday evening to set up today's District 6-A winners-bracket softball matchup between the rival schools.
Marion's top-seeded Lady Warriors whipped Sale Creek 12-1 in five innings, and South Pittsburg moved its record just above .500 by following with a 2-0 win over Whitwell in the tournament at Lookout Valley.
The Lady Pirates (10-9) had split the season series with Whitwell, but junior Carmen Wooden threw a one-hitter, getting plenty of support from her defense to make two early runs stand up.
"She pitched an excellent game and really kept them off balance," South Pittsburg coach Leigh Lawrence said. "She only struck out three, so obviously our defense was pretty solid behind her. Even during pregame, Carmen was just really confident, so I felt good about our chances."
Ayana Garth drove in a run in the top of the first inning and Carrie Hill was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the third, scoring Paige Case with what would be the final run. Case was the only player on either team with more than one hit, finishing 2-for-4. Sara Claunch had Whitwell's hit, a fifth-inning single.
Sale Creek plays Whitwell in today at 5, followed by the winners-bracket final at 7.
After a scoreless first inning in Monday's first game, Marion County (30-7) all but put the game away with a six-run second that included Taylor Brown's two-run double. Morgan Henderson led off the third with a monstrous home run into the trees just past the left-field fence, beginning a five-run outburst.
Brown finished with two doubles and three RBIs, while Henderson was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Brooke Baxter went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
"We wanted to create some pressure with early runs, put them back on their heels and take the pressure off ourselves," Marion coach Chris Thomas said. "We had a couple of girls who stepped up big for us early, and Kelsey [Thomas] pitched well for us again."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.