Silverdale Baptist, Baylor one win from softball state titles

Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Silverdale Baptist Academy's Braylee Raby makes contact for a home run during the Lady Seahawks' 1-0 win against Columbia Academy in the TSSAA Division II-A state tournament Wednesday in Murfreesboro.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Whether they're too young to comprehend the enormity of the moment, or they're simply that clutch, the Silverdale Baptist Academy softball team continues to ignore nerve-wrecking situations to find ways to win.

In their first appearance in the state tournament in two years, the Lady Seahawks — who have just one senior and two juniors on the roster — won a pair of thrillers Wednesday to advance to the Division II-A championship round at the TSSAA Spring Fling.

"We've been so close to getting back here, so this team is just taking that never give up attitude in every game, no matter the situation," Lady Seahawks coach Jackie Freeland said. "Our three upperclassmen are great leaders, and the other kids have bought into their example.

"We know how important it is to get to the title game without a loss. We had to come back through the losers bracket in the region (tournament), and that really takes a lot out of a team."

Silverdale will await the winner of Thursday's losers-bracket final between Columbia Academy and Jackson Christian, needing only one more win to add another state title to the 2018 hardware.

Meanwhile in DII-AA, Baylor cruised back into the title round with a pair of run-rule victories, beating GPS 15-0 and Tipton-Rosemark 10-0. The Lady Red Raiders, who are looking to extend their TSSAA record for consecutive state titles to eight, will await the winner of Tipton-Rosemark versus Chattanooga Christian School in the championship round, set for 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. If necessary, a second game would be played Friday.

CCS eliminated GPS 11-5 late Wednesday evening and will face Tipton-Rosemark in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Thursday.

In Class 3A, both East Hamilton and Soddy-Daisy were just two outs away from advancing into the winners-bracket final, but seventh-inning rallies by their opponents sent Chattanooga's only public-school softball state tournament participants into the losers bracket.

East Hamilton survived with a 3-2 win over Crockett County as Reese Knox and Bailey Poschke each had an RBI, but Soddy-Daisy fell 7-6 to Gibbs for a second straight early exit. The Lady Hurricanes will take on Crockett County in an elimination game Thursday afternoon.

Silverdale's drama began with a sixth-inning three-run rally to defeat Jackson Christian 4-2 as Ella Cunningham and Gabriella Hensley each had RBIs. That was followed by a 1-0 win over Columbia Academy as Braylee Raby belted a one-out home run over the fence in left field during the second inning, and Cunningham made the lead stand with a three-hit, eight strikeout gem.

In Baylor's win over GPS, its third in as many meetings this season, Sydney Sharpe went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and three runs scored and Katie Raper was 2-for-2 with four RBIs — including a three-run homer as part of a 13-run fourth inning.

"That first win took a lot of pressure off all of us," Raper said. "I'm always looking for a pitch down the middle or on the outside part of the plate, so when I got one I was able to drive it. That felt really good."

Addi Yates was 3-for-3 with three RBIs in Baylor's win over Tipton-Rosemark. Riley Oleski was a combined 4-for-7 in the two games with eight RBIs, while Kaylee Snyder and Avery Shamblin each tossed a two-hitter in Baylor's wins.

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