By Steve Williams
Gibbs right fielder Dakota Large was among several players who played key roles on defense in the Lady Eagles’ 2-1 win at Halls in the Region 2-3A softball championship game Wednesday night (May 17).
The marathon contest took 2½ hours and 11 innings to play. It tasked the emotions of many fans on both sides along the way.
When the international rule went into effect in the 10th inning with the scored tied 1-1, each team was allowed to start the inning with a baserunner on second base to increase the chances of scoring.
But Gibbs failed to score in the top of the 10th, stranding runners on second and third.
In Halls’ bottom of the 10th, the Lady Devils had the potential winning run on third base with two outs when Large caught Cam Roberts’ line shot down the right field line.
Gibbs took the lead in the top of the 11th inning when Taylor Selby advanced to third base on Malyiah Smith’s infield groundout and came in for the go-ahead run on Large’s grounder to second.
Halls still had its chance in the bottom of the 11th. Roberts moved to third on Brenna Hunley’s sacrifice bunt. But Large provided the stopper when she caught Vaught’s shallow fly ball on the right field line and Roberts didn’t risk trying to score. With two outs, Sami Kirk grounded out to second baseman Emma Kick to end it.
After this type of game, Gibbs Coach Carol Mitchell was asked what won the game, offense or defense?
“Well,” laughed Mitchell. “Offensively, we scored more runs than they did. Defensively, I thought we played a heck of a game.
“Our second baseman, right fielder, shortstop (Malyiah Smith), third baseman (Jade Bell) late in the game fielding the bunts … I just thought we played a really sound game on defense. Lacey (Keck) pitched well. Jordan (Reagan) was good (at catcher). There were innings that we had opportunities that we couldn’t take advantage of. But at the end of the game, we got what we needed to get.”
Halls took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when leadoff batter Staley Vaught doubled to left center and Kirk followed with a RBI single to the left field gap. Vaught finished with two of Halls’ four hits.
Winning pitcher Lacey Keck helped herself when she got a RBI single to tie the game in the sixth inning.
Smith, Gibbs’ leadoff batter, finished 2 for 5. Gibbs totaled five hits and Halls four.
In the circle, both starters went the distance. Lefthander Lacey Keck struck out 10, walked two and hit one batsman. Emery Bales, Halls’ sophomore righthander, struck out six and did not walk a batter.
“Honestly, I believe we are two of the best teams in the state,” said Mitchell.” If we are fortunate to make it there, I expect them to make it there and we do this all over again in Murfreesboro. But we’ve got to finish (in sectional) just like they do.”
Halls was scheduled to play at Volunteer Friday night, while the Tennessee High at Gibbs game was rescheduled for Saturday due to the Bristol team having graduation Friday.