Highlanders hold on to beat The King's Academy
The lessons may be a little heart-stopping, but Gatlinburg-Pittman’s softball team is learning how to close.
“That’s the kind of situations these girls have never been in before,” said Highlanders coach Haley Johnson. “I told them we want to forget about the past. I told them after the game G-P probably hasn’t been in that type of situation, probably in the last 10 years, being ahead going into the bottom of the seventh.
“But I was really proud of them. Started facing some adversity, booted a ball, had bases loaded and they come out and just bow their backs and get the job done.”
Kelsey Henry saved the Highlanders, striking out Heather Sparks with the tying run on base in bottom of the seventh to lift G-P to a 6-4 victory over The King’s Academy on Thursday. Henry finished with 10 strikeouts while the offense was powered once again by Jerri Leffew. The freshman doubled twice, tripled, scored a run and drove in two runs. She reached base four times.
“(She’s) about as good of a hitter as I’ve seen in a while,” said Lions coach Marc Weekly.
Leffew’s bat helped G-P score the game’s first six runs off pitcher Haven Taylor, who was battling a stomach virus. She still struck out 16 batters.
TKA stranded five runners in the first three innings before finally breaking through against Henry on a two-run single from Taylor Sparks in the sixth. Mandy Huffman made it a two-run game with her own two-RBI hit in the seventh.
That was reminiscent of the season-opener for G-P when the Highlanders gave up four runs late in a 14-8 win over Cherokee (N.C.). This time, Henry shut the door and preserved the win.
“She’s the team clown but when it comes down to crunch time, she always seems to get the job done for us,” Johnson said. “If she keeps that focus and mentality on the mound then she’s going to be able to do some good things for us.”
South-Doyle 15, Sevier County 3
SEVIERVILLE — The Cherokees were only up 8-3 entering the seventh before blowing the game open.
Bearettes coach Ashley Miller said the final score didn’t indicate how close the game was.
“There wasn't ever a time that my team gave up and I’m very proud of them,” Miller said. “Many of them had great hits, just right at people. They’re a little more comfortable, relaxed at the plate.”
Emily Lavoie had a double for Sevier County while pitcher Brooke Whaley struck out seven in the loss.
Bearden 10, Seymour 2
KNOXVILLE — The Eagles were up a run early and only trailed 3-2 after the fourth inning when the Bulldogs exploded against Seymour’s bullpen.
Kendall Catlett started for Seymour, striking out five through four innings of work. Offensively the Eagles managed just five hits and nobody had more than one.
Seymour returns to action tonight against Catholic. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. at Hardin Valley.
Gatlinburg-Pittman 6, Cosby 5
GATLINBURG — It was a win, but not a pretty one for Highlanders coach Josh Warner.
“It was good to win,” Warner said. "But it didn’t really feel like a win. We know we left a lot out on the field today. We’ve got to play good defense.”
Isaiah Morris got the complete game victory, but only one of Cosby’s five runs was earned. Morris scattered seven hits and struck out nine while not walking a single batter.
Daniel Watson had two hits, including a double and an RBI. Matthew Sides was 2 for 3 with an RBI while Morris had a double and an RBI.
“Offensively, we hit a lot of balls hard,” Warner said. “Defensively, we just didn’t make the routine plays. … That’s why it’s so disappointing for me. We work so hard on our defense. We just didn't perform today. That’s baseball. We’re going to learn from it.”
Pigeon Forge 12, Anderson County 5
CLINTON — The Tigers blew open a close game with six in the seventh.
Jake Griffin finished 3 for 3 with a walk and a sac fly while Josh Griffin had two hits. Scott LaFollette had a hit and two walks. Koleman Roach threw four innings and allowed one run, striking out four.
Pigeon Forge coach Mike Guinn said the tight situations his team has faced the last two games have provided good tests but also showed how far the Tigers have left to go.
“We are showing the ability to respond,” he said. “It’s going to get tougher and tougher.”
Pigeon Forge 2, Chuckey-Doak 0
GATLINBURG — The Tigers opened the Rocky Top Cup with a win behind a pair of goals from freshman Melvin Romero.
“We were pretty much in control,” said Pigeon Forge coach Bill Moseley. “We settled the ball down at times and passed really well, moved it around.”
Sevier County 5, Gibbs 0
GATLINBURG — The Smoky Bears continued to roll up goals and Anthony Lemus continued to be at the forefront.
The sophomore striker had two tallies as did Alex Martinez to open the Rocky Top Cup in Gatlinburg. Hugo Manjarrez added a goal. Sevier County plays the host Highlanders tonight at 8.
Seymour 2, Gatlinburg-Pittman 1
GATLINBURG — A week after the Highlanders beat the Eagles by three goals in a scrimmage, Seymour turned to some “ugly” soccer to get this win.
“We had to play ugly soccer, put more people back and play direct,” said Eagles coach Drew Payne. “Just had to play long balls as much as we could. … It’s ugly soccer but sometimes it takes that to win games.”
Kameron Grunenwald had a goal and an assist in the first half while Jake McBrayer had a goal and Davis Blake added an assist. Chris Kilbourne scored for the Highlanders.
It was quick counters in the scrimmage that made Payne wary and this time the coach packed it in for the win.
“They’re just bigger and faster than we are,” Payne said. “I don’t blame them for relying on those quick counters.”