MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - East Hamilton looked like a different softball team Wednesday than it did Tuesday in the Class AA high school softball state tournament. Going from 12 runs allowed to none will do that.
The Lady Hurricanes not only played without error behind pitcher Maria Walshe, they converted three double plays in a game for the first time all season. They also took advantage of both Greenbrier errors and defeated the Lady Cats 2-0 at Starplex No. 2.
"Our defense was definitely better," East Hamilton coach Cara Stiles said in comparison to her team's 12-6 first-day loss to Chester County. "Way better. It was the difference in the ballgame."
East Hamilton (26-13-2) will play Unicoi County today at about 1 p.m. EDT.
Lady 'Canes leadoff batter Shaliyah Geathers sparked their offensive effort by going 3-for-4.
"I think if we just come out and do what we did today, swinging the bats early and playing spot on defense, we can get through," Geathers said.
Geathers had an adventurous time on the basepaths against the Lady Cats, including getting tagged out in a rundown between first and second in the fifth inning. Stiles said it was the kind of play that "happens once a year."
In a similar situation in the third, Geathers strayed off first when the Lady Cats pitched out, but when the throw went behind her she ended up stealing second.
"I think I tricked them on that one," Geathers said. "They threw back to first and I took advantage on the throwback."
Tori Barnes then singled Geathers to third and Kelsey Payne followed with a high sacrifice fly to deep center that was misplayed, allowing her to reach first with Geathers scoring.
That run was all the support Walshe had until the seventh, which began with a popout. After consecutive singles to center by Alyssa Strickler and Geathers, a two-out walk for Payne loaded the bases. Strickler scored when Walshe reached on an error.
Maggie Woods went 2-for-3 for East Hamilton. Walshe gave up six hits and one walk while striking out four.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.