Silverdale Baptist Academy's softball team lives to play again - again.
Thanks to some heroics by catcher Madi Hancock, the Lady Seahawks had enough of a lead to hold off a seventh-inning charge by Arts & Sciences at Warner Park on Thursday and win 9-7 in the first final in the double-elimination tournament.
Silverdale (22-10) and CSAS (20-10-1), co-champions of the regular season, will decide the tournament championship today at Warner Park at 11 a.m.
"It depends on what team shows up," CSAS coach Kaity Holloway said. "I have all the faith in the world in every girl wearing that uniform. I just told them to go home, get some rest, wake up and let's play ball in the morning."
The Lady Seahawks were in the final thanks to Hancock's single in the bottom of the seventh to beat Grace Academy 5-4 in Wednesday's losers-bracket final. They led CSAS by a run heading to the seventh inning Thursday when she came to bat with two on and one out and launched a pitch over the left-field fence.
That cushion became important when Jamani Greer hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning. Afterward the Lady Patriots put the tying runs in scoring position with two outs, but winning pitcher Elise Pearson, who also was the starter against CSAS in Tuesday's winners-bracket final although she was not tagged with the loss, ended it with her second strikeout.
"I'm glad we still have a chance," SBA coach Tim Couch said. "That's all you can ask for. They've got a good team. We're going to have to play really good. Our defense and pitching has got to be solid. And we've got to score runs. The way they hit it, you don't have too many 2-1 games against CSAS. They're too strong."
The Lady Seahawks took the lead in the top of the first inning when Pearson singled in Allison Meadows, who had singled and advanced on a sacrifice. But in the bottom of the inning the Lady Patriots put together five hits, including Brittany Patmon's two-run home run, and led 4-1.
It was 5-1 after three, and then Silverdale pulled within a run after the fourth and added two runs in the fifth to take a 6-5 lead. CSAS made six of its seven errors in those two innings.
Only six of SBA's runs were driven in. Hancock had four with her other coming on a bases-loaded walk.
Of today's game, Holloway said: "We cannot give it away."
Sloane Woodard was 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Lady Seahawks. Pearson and Lindsey Newell were each 2-for-4 with Newell and Pearson's courtesy runner, Falyn Blaylock, each scoring twice.
Greer was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored for the Lady Patriots, and Angela Petulla was 2-for-3 and reached base all four plate-appearances. Kiara Suttles went 2-for-4 with a double and Victorious Blanton went 2-for-4 and scored twice.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.