MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Whitwell's Lady Tigers made some defensive plays late in Wednesday's TSSAA Class A state-tournament softball game against Gordonsville that kept them in it. But there was no defense for what the Tigerettes' Shelby Prichard did to put it away.
Allyson West's single through the middle with two outs in the top of the seventh inning broke a tie and put Gordonsville ahead by a run, but it was Prichard's ensuing grand slam that capped an 8-3 victory.
Whitwell (23-16) drops to the losers bracket and will take on University School of Johnson City (28-14) today at about 1 p.m. EDT.
Winning pitcher Cori Jennings, a junior left-hander who has committed to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, did not give up another hit after Kathleen Sledge's two-run single tied it at 3 in the third. Her four-hitter included seven strikeouts and one walk, and she hit one batter.
After the first inning, the Lady Tigers' Riley Long shut out Gordonsville for five consecutive innings.
"Riley has kept us in games all year," Whitwell coach Grace Pickett said.
Jennings, who went 3-for-3, had the first hit in the Tigerettes' last-inning rally.
"We knew we had to stay up," Jennings said. "We were confident enough we could hit."
And when asked about the reaction in the dugout after Prichard's shot landed on the other side of the left-field fence, "We went crazy," she said.
Pickett wasn't happy with the fact her team made an error each in the Tigerettes' three-run first inning and their five-run seventh. But the handling of some tough chances helped keep Gordonsville in check until the end.
Shortstop Alyssa Coppinger, who is also committed to UTC and whom Jennings knows because both play summer ball for the Chattanooga-based Fury organization, was the catalyst with five assists, one on a double play, and three putouts.
"She played really good," Jennings said. "She made a lot of really good plays."
Kacee Hedrick homered in the second for Whitwell's first run.
"We've got to come out ready in the morning," Pickett said. "We've got to hit the ball better and make all the fundamental plays."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.