MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The fact that Gibbs' Holly Moyers was unable to get a sacrifice bunt down with a runner on first base in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Class AAA high school state softball losers-bracket final Friday turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Lady Eagles.
After two attempts that went foul, Moyers ended up turning on a pitch and driving it up against the left-field fence. Pinch-runner Ashley Daniels came all the way around from first base to score the decisive run and the Lady Eagles advanced to the championship game by beating Soddy-Daisy 7-6.
The victory was a school-record 50th for Gibbs, which moved up from Class AA this season and ended up second in the state to last year's runner-up, Dickson County, with a 4-1 loss in the final.
The Lady Eagles' seventh inning against Soddy-Daisy began with pinch-hitter Anna Mershon getting hit by a pitch. After Moyers got two strikes, Gibbs coach Carol Mitchell said she took the bunt sign off but thought Moyers might still try to lay one down because of the significance of advancing a runner in that situation.
"I really was not going to put it past her," Mitchell said. "But she came through and hit it solid. It kind of kicked away from the fielder and she had to chase it down, and that helped us. It's a long way from first base."
The game was 1-1 headed to the bottom of the fourth. The Lady Eagles had two bunt singles that inning, took advantage of two errors and a walk and scored five runs.
So why didn't the Lady Trojans collapse then?
"Because this team doesn't do that," Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles said. "I don't know if I've tricked them with motivational stories or what, but they start believing. Anytime we've got outs ...
"They gave me positive effort and great attitude that whole game, and I can't be upset about that."
Haley Reynolds' three-run double highlighted the fifth-inning rally that enabled the Lady Trojans to tie it.
"We were really feeling good about ourselves," Mitchell said of having a 6-1 lead. "We knew they were going to score more runs, but we didn't know they were going to blast five runs. My pitcher wasn't even loose."
The pitcher referrence was to Abby Hicks, whom she brought in after Shana Ward's one-out single drove in a run and the tying run scored on an error on the play. She ended up being the winning pitcher.
Reynolds, Ward, Brooke Hale and Savannah Moore each went 2-for-4 for Soddy-Daisy, which finished 37-10 and won the District 5 and Region 3 titles to go with its third-place finish in the state tournament.
"Our whole thing this year was let's have a positive attitude and kind of see what happens," Skiles said. "I thought we did that. Right now it hurts, but we were still alive on the last day. The last two games we were right there. We just didn't come through. I'm still proud of them."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.