By Steve Williams
Halls enters post-season softball play tonight on a high note, while Gibbs is coming off a rough week.
In an exciting game between the two rivals last Wednesday night in Corryton, the Lady Red Devils scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to slip past the Lady Eagles 5-4 in the regular season finale for both teams.
With two outs and a runner on first base and a 3-2 count, sophomore slugger Emery Bales hit a two-run homer over the right centerfield fence to put Halls on top by one. Bales, a transfer from Union County this season, was mobbed by happy teammates as she stepped on home plate.
Gibbs had a good chance to answer in the bottom of the seventh with its 3-4-5 batters due up, but couldn’t come up with a clutch hit after Jordann Reagan led off with a walk. Courtesy runner Maddi Whaley replaced Reagan and stole second base.
Winning pitcher Atianna Stamper, also a sophomore, slammed the door by getting Lacey Keck to fly out to left field, Emma Keck to pop up to the catcher and McKenzie Morton to strike out.
The victory upped Halls’ record to 25-4-2. The Lady Red Devils lost to Gibbs 5-1 in their first meeting at the start of the season.
Gibbs, which lost two of three games last week, including an 11-1 defeat at the hands of Farragut, fell to 30-4.
Both Halls and Gibbs play district tournament openers tonight. Gibbs will host the District 3-3A tourney and Halls is in District 4-3A at Anderson County. Both are favored to advance to next week’s Region 2-3A tournament, along with Carter and Clinton.
“We got timely hitting and made pitches when we had to,” said Halls Coach Bryan Gordon, “and very, very timely hitting by Bales there at the end.
“Emery has hit it well for us all year. She’s just having fun.”
Coach Gordon also had good things to say about his pitcher.
“She did just an outstanding job. She battled through some stuff early and was just outstanding. She was as good as we could ask for.
“It was two great teams playing,” added Gordon. “It don’t get more fun than that.”
Coach Gordon expects it to be a heck of a region this year.
“That program (Gibbs) has always been good,” he said. “Let’s cut through the crap; they’re the standard around here. To get to where you want to go, sometimes you have to get to those standards.
“It was a great atmosphere and great game between two good teams today. It was a lot of fun to coach in, and hopefully it was a lot of fun to play in and a lot of fun to watch.
“It’s a rivalry. The kids know each other. Hopefully, it (the win) will help us get over the hump.”
Halls took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on RBI doubles by Bales and Mykayla Hutchinson. Gibbs tied it in the bottom of the second with a double by Bridgette Scully and RBI singles by Taylor Selby and Malyiah Smith.
The Lady Eagles took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Savanna Melo and Selby had infield hits and Melo scored on Smith’s two-out single to left field.
Halls pulled even in the top of the fifth when Bales doubled in Staley Vaught, who had singled.
The Lady Eagles took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Scully’s double off the fence in left field brought in courtesy runner Rheanne Tullock.
Gibbs pitcher Lacey Keck struck out two batters to strand a Halls runner at second base in the sixth.
Selby led off the bottom of the sixth with an infield hit for Gibbs and stole second but was stranded at third when Smith grounded out and Dakota Large flew out to left field.