The stars seemed to align for the Creek Wood Lady Red Hawks on Thursday morning, as an RBI single from Brett Jackson gave CWHS a 1-0 lead over Lexington in the bottom of the first inning of an elimination game. Unfortunately, everything came out of alignment as the Big Red Lady Tigers tied the game in the next inning, scored in every inning but the first, and nearly run-ruled the Lady Red Hawks in the fifth before turning back Creek Wood 15-5 after six innings.
Base runners were plentiful, as neither side had a clean inning all game, and the teams combined for 21 hits and 10 errors. Lexington tied the game in the third as Hannah Bassham dropped down a 2-out bunt single, but an error by Sloan Batey let runner Bailey Lessenberry score from first. Beckey Melton fired back immediately to catch Bassham trying to take second on the throw, but the Lady Tigers of Lexington had tied the game going to the bottom of the second.
An RBI single by Brooklyn Hays in the third gave Lexington a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, but back to back homers by Kaitlyn Kelly and Iesha Kizer made it 5-1 going to the bottom of the third, after Bailey Griffith was lifted for Libby Baldwin to get the final out. A single and an error in the fourth would put runners at the corners, but a line out double play to short would leave just the lead runner, who would then score on an error to make it 6-1.
Four singles, a walk, and two errors plated 5 runs in the top of the fifth, making it 11-1 Lexington, meaning the Lady Red Hawks needed at least one run in the bottom half to avoid the mercy rule. Kayla Jackson singled with one out, then Griffith walked and Davenport singled to score Jackson, allowing CWHS to play on 11-2. Griffith tried to score on the play as well, but in a hard collision at home plate she was called out, and pitcher Natalie Cogdell got Melton to line out to center to end the fifth.
A hit-by-pitch, a walk, and an error loaded the bases with one out, and a walk drove in a run. Baldwin battled back and struck out the next batter she faced, but a fielder’s choice off the next batter resulted in another run with everyone safe. A 2-RBI double made it 15-2, and Creek Wood needed at least 4 in the bottom of the sixth to play on.
Brett Jackson led off and reached on an error, then Braressa DeLoach walked and Batey singled to load the bases with no outs. Montana Thomas singled to drive in 2 runs and trim the lead to 15-4. DeeAnna Massey grounded out to the pitcher, moving Thomas to second but not allowing Batey to score from third, but a Kayla Jackson groundout would plate the run and make it 15-5 with two outs. Creek Wood needed one more run to play on into the seventh, but Cogdell needed just four more pitches to get Griffith to fly out to right and end the game in six via the mercy rule.
Creek Wood defensively had 8 errors and allowed 14 hits in the loss, meaning that Griffith worked 2 and 2/3 innings and allowed 5 runs but none earned, and Baldwin 10 runs but just 2 earned in 3 and 1/3. Cogdell needed 100 pitches to get through 6 innings, allowing 5 runs but only 3 earned, walking 4, striking out 2, and allowing 7 hits.
Every batter for Lexington except for a pinch hitter got on base, and all but one of those batters had a hit. Hays led the day, going 3 for 5 with 5 RBI, while Megan Maness went 1 for 5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Conversely, every batter for Creek Wood got on base, but all 7 hits were by 7 different Lady Red Hawks. Thomas led the way by going 1 for 3 with 2 RBI, while Kayla Jackson and Brett Jackson each had a hit, an RBI, and a run scored.
Creek Wood’s season ends on a low note, but the Lady Red Hawks also end the season as one of the top six teams in the state in AA softball, while returning a number of young pieces to next year’s team. Lexington went on to eliminate CAK 9-3 on Thursday afternoon and Chattanooga Central dropped a 2-0 decision in the Winners’ Bracket Final to Greeneville, so the two teams that beat Creek Wood in this tournament–the Purple Pounders and the Lady Tigers–face off at 9am on Friday. The winner would have to beat Greeneville twice on Friday afternoon to walk away with the championship.