East Hamilton, Soddy-Daisy claim narrow wins to advance in state softball

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Soddy Daisy's Skylar Gooden (3) hits a shot that the Crockett County third baseman can't handle. Gooden reached first safely and later scored the first Soddy Daisy run. TSSAA softball was played at the Starplex in Murfreesboro on May 23, 2023.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — After a 10-year stretch between state tournament appearances, waiting another half inning for a win wasn't all that bad for East Hamilton's softball team.

The Lady Hurricanes rallied from a five-run deficit in the second inning, scoring in each of the last four innings, to beat Gibbs 10-9 in their Class AAA Spring Fling opener Tuesday evening.

Ashlynn Watkins drove in the game-winner with a one-out single in the home half of the seventh.

"My mindset was to just relax — see ball, hit ball," said Watkins, who was 2-for-4 at the plate and also earned the win, allowing four earned runs and striking out five in seven innings pitched. "I just wanted to make solid contact and see what happened."

East Hamilton (27-10) will face Lexington in Wednesday's winners bracket at 6 p.m.

Senior Grace Hixson was 3-for-3 with two home runs, including a grand slam in the fifth inning, and drove in six runs to pace the Lady Hurricanes offense.

"I don't think anybody expected much from us before today, so we came in just wanting to have fun," Hixson said. "We had a lot of fun today, and now that there are some bigger expectations after this win, we have to make sure we keep that same energy and have fun."

Also in the AAA bracket, Soddy-Daisy advanced with a 2-1 win over Crockett County and will play McNairy Central on Wednesday at 6.

Regan Rowan allowed four hits and struck out seven to earn the win for the Lady Trojans (30-5-1), who are back in the state tourney for a second straight season. Rowan also went 2-for-3 at the plate, as did Hannah Patterson.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com.