MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Eleven weeks removed from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, Ringgold senior Matthew Crownover was easy to spot in the softball crowd Thursday.
Among the fans wearing either GPS blue or Baylor red, Crownover sat decked out in Clemson orange to cheer for his mom Susan and his sister Kelby, who coach and play for GPS.
The Clemson signee and his father David, a Ringgold baseball assistant, left immediately after GPS lost to Baylor to get home and prepare for Monday's state championship baseball series against Cartersville.
"It's been kind of bittersweet having to sit and watch while the team plays," Matthew Crownover said. "I'm there for every practice and every game to cheer for the guys and help any way I can, but I wish I could be out there with them."
Crownover said he is working out by doing dumbbell lifts and stretches and will return to Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedist who specializes in Tommy John surgery, in five weeks for a progress report.
"It's supposed to be between a nine- and 12-month recovery and I'm doing everything I can to make sure I can get back as soon as I can, but I want to make sure it's totally healthy, too," he said.
"In the meantime, I've always been a Ringgold boy and right now I'm just thinking about my team playing for a championship."
Baylor's Lady Red Raiders tied a softball state-tournament record Thursday with nine hits in one inning in an 11-1 victory over GPS in the Division II-AA winners-bracket final.
The Bruisers kept Baylor in check for five innings. Then the outburst came in the sixth and final inning and included doubles by Precious Birdsong and Haley Andrus.
"I was a little worried," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "I was thinking, 'This may be that one game where we don't get that big hit.' Of course in the sixth inning, we finally did."
Two straight 10s
When Grace Academy pitcher Tory Helton got the last out of an 11-8 victory in Thursday's first session in the Class A state softball tournament, it was 4:34 p.m. CDT. The first of the two 10-inning games on Starplex field 4, Silverdale Baptist's 15-13 win over Forrest, began at 10 a.m.
The second session scheduled to start at 5 didn't start until 5:10. Grace was allowed the approximate 30-minute "warmup" period between games, but that's usually reserved for games within the same session.
"We haven't had anything like that happen before," said Bernard Childress, who since 1995 presided over softball for the TSSAA before becoming executive director in the summer of 2009. "The closest we've ever come to that was having a game finish about 3:15."