Coming into this year, Meigs County never had won a regular-season high school softball tournament. Now the Lady Tigers have two such titles.
Behind the one-hit pitching of junior right-hander Ashley Rogers, Meigs defeated Baylor 3-0 at Warner Park in a matchup of last year's Class A and Division II-AA state champions in the Gold final of Soddy-Daisy's 28th Lady Trojan Invitational.
Rogers, who has committed to Tennessee, faced the minimum through five innings. The only walk she allowed was to the second batter she faced, and a double play erased that.
"We enjoyed watching her last year at the state tournament," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "That was the first time she was on our radar. She's a really, really good pitcher. What does she throw, 66 miles an hour with a changeup?
"She's consistent with her pitches. She stayed ahead of the hitters. You throw 66 and mix in that rise pitch and a changeup, you're going to win a lot of high school softball games."
The Lady Tigers, who earlier won the Jim Frost Ooltewah Invitational, were leading 1-0 in the sixth when Baylor's Emily Rye led off by hitting a pop fly that fell just inside the left-field line for a double. With two on, left fielder Lindsey Ward put an end to the Lady Red Raiders' only serious scoring threat with an inning-ending diving catch.
"We hadn't had an opportunity to score all game," Smith said. "This game was like the old-school days when you hope your pitcher and your defense can keep you in it until you can manufacture a run or scratch something out."
A scoop by first baseman Jade Meadows prevented another Lady Raiders baserunner, and second baseman Taylor Odom's throw after a backhand grab of a one-hop line drive kept the no-hitter intact in the fifth. Rogers totaled 12 strikeouts.
"We've got a great defense," Meigs coach Jeff Davis said. "We just don't have to use it much when she's pitching."
Baylor eighth-grader Ace Sellers took a two-hitter into the seventh. The Lady Tigers got to her then for two more runs and had the bases loaded with none out when Smith brought in reliever Macy Ann McKnight, who put an end to the uprising.
"I would've liked to have gotten two more out of that," Davis said. "That was a huge inning right there. That meant if we make a mistake and give up a two-run homer, it doesn't beat you. Although the way Ashley was pitching, I don't think there was much of a threat of giving up a two-run homer."
Meigs leadoff-batter Kaylie Moore went 2-for-4, scoring the first run on Madison Crabtree's groundout in the third and driving in the first run in the seventh. Aubrey Reed's bases-loaded walk brought in the last run.
* Central 10, East Hamilton 0: Sparked by an eight-run first inning, the Lady Purple Pounders won the Silver division with a four-inning victory in the final.
Tatum Morgan had a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Janara Smith singled, walked and was hit by a pitch, and she also scored twice. Winning pitcher Brooke Parrott allowed two hits and had 10 strikeouts.
The only loss for Central (16-7) in the two-day tournament was to GPS in its pool-play opener. But because of a runs-allowed tiebreaker, the Lady Pounders were left out of the Gold division.
"I was proud of the way the girls pulled together after that big loss," said coach LeeAnne Shurette, whose Class AA Lady Pounders defeated four Class AAA teams afterward. "I liked that we got to play some teams we don't often see. We got some experience and we went 5-1 for the weekend. We would like to be in the Gold bracket, but I feel like we did pretty good in our pool, and we ended up winning the Silver."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.