After Monday's development at Silverdale Baptist Academy, things are all square at the top of the District 5-A high school softball standings.
Arts & Sciences avenged an earlier loss to Silverdale, defeating the Lady Seahawks 7-3 and leaving both teams 5-1 in the district standings.
Silverdale won 5-1 on April 3, so the teams are tied head-to-head in run differential. Should both win their remaining two district games, the next criteria in determining the top seeding for the district tournament would be fewest runs allowed in all district games.
"We had a different attitude today than we've had all season," CSAS coach Kaity Holloway said. "It's exciting to see how we play off of it. I hope we're going to snowball in a positive direction."
Kiara Suttles got CSAS (16-9-1) going early when she followed Victorious Blanton's one-out single in the top of the first inning with a high drive over the fence in center on the first pitch she saw. Suttles' double to right-center started a three-run rally in the third that was aided by two Lady Seahawks errors and included Gabi Queener's RBI double.
"We're not mature enough yet to make errors and win games," Silverdale coach Tim Couch said. "We don't have the bats to make up for those. Not many teams do.
"They're going to put the ball in play," he said of the Lady Patriots. "We, as a team, have got to be able to field them."
CSAS pitcher Brianna Taylor was perfect through four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. RBI walks to Madi Hancock and Skylar Parton preceded a run-scoring single by Allison Meadows as Silverdale (16-9) cut the deficit to two runs.
But the Lady Patriots responded the next inning, getting an RBI double from Jamani Greer in front of Brittany Patmon's sacrifice fly, which was dropped. Suttles ended up 3-for-3 with a walk, with her other hit coming in that inning.
"I knew today was going to be a battle," said Couch, whose team is scheduled to wrap up its district season within the next three days, playing Boyd-Buchanan twice. "They have a good team. I said that the first time we played. Now we need to win Tuesday and Thursday and get out of this funk we're in. As a coach, I've got to figure out how we can win these close games."
Taylor went 4-for-5 for the Lady Patriots in addition to being the winning pitcher. She allowed six hits and had 10 strikeouts. Holloway said the key was Taylor keeping the ball around the edges of the plate.
"We want to work the black and off," Holloway said. "Good hitters, they're going to give you a challenge, and they have some good hitters that are going to take you deep in counts. That's what they did in the first game. You expect them to do that. But her having command of her pitches around the black and off, that's where she was getting her strikeouts."
Losing pitcher Emily Harkleroad went 2-for-3 and scored a run.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.