G-P, Pigeon Forge can't avoid elimination

May. 06, 2014 @ 10:55 PM

 Facing elimination against a county rival, the Pigeon Forge softball team let its opponent make the mistakes.

Four errors in a four-run Tiger fourth were costly enough to allow Pigeon Forge to cruise to an 8-1 victory over Gatlinburg-Pittman in the District 3-AA tournament on Tuesday afternoon.

“We just started hitting it, getting in a flow, getting things going,” said Tigers pitcher Jessie Sharp. “That’s all it took. Put some pressure on them.”

But the Tigers made their own mistakes in the nightcap, losing 5-4 to Fulton after holding a 4-2 lead entering the seventh. The Falcons scored three runs, all unearned and with two outs, to win the game in the final inning. The loss knocked Pigeon Forge from the tournament.

“It was unexpected,” said Tigers coach Jessica Henry. “I expected to play (today). I was proud of them for my first year. I had a really great group of seniors.”

Pigeon Forge kept those seniors’ careers going earlier in the day when four straight Tigers scored in the fourth inning of the early game to put the tournament hosts firmly in control. Alisha Norris had the biggest hit of the inning, driving in two with a single. She later pitched a pair of scoreless innings to close out the Highlanders’ season.

G-P got its only run of the game in the second when Bethanie Trees scored after getting on with a single. The Highlanders had just one hit the rest of the game when Jerri Leffew singled in the sixth.

“Our 3-4-5 hitters, with them all being freshmen and a sophomore, you really put a lot of pressure on those kids that really haven’t been in those situations,” said G-P coach Haley Johnson.

The pressure on the Highlanders was never higher than in the fourth. Morgan Messick and Jimena Meza reached on back-to-back errors to give the Tigers runners on second and third with just one out. Norris followed with that two-run hit and BrieAnna Styles moved her over by reaching on an error. Norris and Styles would both eventually score.

“It felt pretty good to help my team out and score those runs to get us up by a lot,” Norris said. “It felt good. … Just hit as a team. When one person hits, everybody hits.”

Pigeon Forge tacked on a couple more in the sixth when Styles doubled and Carson Montgomery sacrificed her in. Sharp later singled in McKenzie Murphy for the third baseman’s second run of the game.

“We came into it wanting to win that game,” Henry said. “I think that speaks (volumes) on my girls. They’re playing for the seniors.”