As hectic as this week is shaping up to be already, the last thing GPS softball coach Susan Crownover — and the entire team — needed was any added stress. The Bruisers wasted no time in erasing any drama from Tuesday's Division II-AA quarterfinal doubleheader.
GPS ripped Lipscomb Academy 15-0 in three innings in the first game, then cruised 12-1 in the second to earn its 15th consecutive trip to the Spring Fling.
"This week is just crazy hectic with exams and all sorts of end-of-the-school-year type stuff going on that could be a distraction," Crownover said. "But we came out focused and really jumped on them and took care of business like we're supposed to.
"The top of the order really got things going for us, and everybody followed suit after that."
The first four GPS batters reached base on the way to a 13-run first inning in the first game. Hannah Sanders drove in the game's first two runs with a double, one of six extra-base hits in the inning, and earned the pitching win, allowing just one hit and striking out three of the 10 batters she faced.
Abbie Reel had a pair of two-run doubles in the first inning, and Ariana Whatley also had a two-run double. Catcher Ansley Blevins, one of four freshman starters for the Bruisers, ended the game with a two-run home run, her 12th of the season.
The Bruisers (26-7) didn't take their foot off the throttle in the second game, scoring 11 runs in the first three innings, including four in the first, to take command early once again.
Brynley Oliver went 3-for-3, including a triple, with three RBIs, Sanders and Elizabeth Warwick each had two hits and a pair of RBIs and eighth-grader Isabella Jenkins scattered three hits and struck out three to earn the win.
"I've played since I was 5, so I understand that any team can get beat by anybody," said Kaitlyn Songer, one of only two senior starters, who had two hits and an RBI in the second game. "We may have a young team, but their mindset is so good that they don't really need to be led or reminded. But we did talk before the first game about how this is it and we have to be ready, and obviously we came out swinging."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.