Baylor's Lady Red Raiders take softball crown

Baylor's Lady Red Raiders take softball crown

May 26th, 2012 by Gene Henley in Sports - Preps

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- After her team allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth inning of the Division II-AA softball championship game Friday night, Baylor coach Kelli Smith didn't worry about how the Lady Red Raiders would respond. After all, they had been there just the day before.

Their answer wasn't spoken in words; rather, by their bats.

Baylor claimed its seventh state softball championship -- tying GPS for fourth-most in TSSAA history -- by defeating the Bruisers 6-3 at the Starplex complex. Baylor had won 11-1 when the Chattanooga rivals met in the winners-bracket final, but the Bruisers' Corey Swafford slowed the Baylor lineup as long as she could Friday before succumbing.

Baylor (40-5) had pounded Swafford for eight runs and 12 hits in the teams' Thursday meeting. She held the potent lineup in check for a while Friday, with two third-inning runs, but not long enough to force an extra game for the title today. The Lady Red Raiders scored four runs in the sixth inning to break the game open.

"For some reason, we always seem to do that," said Baylor first baseman Kelsie Clark, who finished 3-for-4. "It was a huge way for us to come out and get some runs when we needed them."

Haley Andrus and Clark had back-to-back ground-rule doubles to start the inning, which chased Swafford. Clark later scored on a wild pitch, as did Maya Mathis and Precious Birdsong.

Braleigh Angel's triple over the head of GPS left fielder LeeAnn Jackson had scored Birdsong in the third, and Angel came home on a Cassi Pickett double two batters later for the 2-0 lead.

"I'm just so proud of the girls," Smith said. "This was the hardest working group I've ever had. They were amazing on and off the field, and I couldn't be more proud of the way we played."

The Bruisers (25-13) got two runs off errors and the third on a blooper by Taylor Battle in the seventh inning.,

"We fought all the way through," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "They are a good team, but we are, too and we're going to keep growing. The pitchers did a good job with their batters. I thought we played outstanding after not playing well the last time we played them."