Gun sighting cuts softball game short

Mar. 15, 2014 @ 12:21 AM

Pigeon Forge’s doubleheader at Austin-East was cut short Friday after a gun was spotted near the game in Knoxville, Tigers coach Jessica Henry said.
The second game of the softball series was in the first inning when Henry said the umpires ordered both teams to the dugouts. They explained the situation shortly thereafter and Henry packed up the equipment while her team left.
“My first thought was to protect the girls,” Henry said. “They’re my first priority. I guess you just kind of go into protection mode. The most important thing for me at the time was to get them safe.”
Henry praised Austin-East for handling the situation and making sure everyone got to safety. Pigeon Forge Athletic Director Jim Lethco said he expected the incident would be discussed with the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association early next week.
“It’s just bizarre,” Lethco said. “Luckily nobody got hurt. Luckily we had level-headed coaches to get everybody out safe.”
Sevier County co-Athletic Director Bryan Atchley said incidents like these are extremely rare in Sevier County. In 20-plus years as a football coach with the Smoky Bears, Atchley said he doesn’t remember any similar issues at the school. While the TSSAA only requires administrators at major sports, Atchley said he tries to make sure there’s at least some representative of the school administration at almost every event.
Lethco, who made stops at a tennis and soccer match on Friday, said that’s important.
“That’s one of the reasons why we always have someone from our school at every home event, because things like this could happen,” Lethco said. “You hope and pray that they don’t. There’s a possibility of this type of behavior happening anywhere.”