Region title loss to Carter ‘focused’ Gibbs for state

Stewarts Creek gets by Halls in Class 4A


By Steve Williams

The loss at Carter on May 15 may have been what Gibbs needed to breeze through this year’s TSSAA Class 3A state softball tournament like it did.

“The focus has been better,” said Gibbs Coach Carol Mitchell after her team’s second win (12-2 over Soddy Daisy) at the state tourney last Wednesday. “It’s almost like we needed stuff to kind of get back in check.  We also know that that game (5-1 loss at Carter in the Region 2-3A finals) was not a game that we had to win to continue our season.

“So, okay we lost a game (to Carter) so we’re going to move on then to the next game, which matters (sectional at Tennessee High),” added Mitchell. “I think it kind of put us back in check and made us focus a lot more.”

After a postponement due to a graduation ceremony on Friday and a rainout on Saturday, Gibbs traveled to Bristol Sunday, May 19, and defeated Tennessee High 5-1, which put the Eagles in the state tournament in Murfreesboro.

“We had to beat Cocke County and we had to beat Tennessee High,” said Mitchell. “The Carter game was just for a plaque.”

The two Knox County teams – Gibbs, a perennial state power, and Carter, making its first-ever trip to state – ended up playing each other in the state championship game Friday night.

Gibbs (27-12) made it to the finals without a loss, defeating South Gibson 11-1, Soddy-Daisy 12-2 and Creek Wood 3-0.

Carter (19-9), despite being the new kid in town, toppled Upperman 11-4 and Lexington 5-1 before losing its first game in the double-elimination pod play to Dyer County4-2 Thursday. The two teams met again that night in a must-win situation and Carter rebounded with a 6-2 victory.

That put the Lady Eagles and Lady Hornets from Knox County in a winner-take-all game Friday and Gibbs came out on top 6-1.

Gibbs’ Lacey Keck led the way, pitching a two-hitter and striking out five. The only run she gave up was unearned. Keck also helped herself, going 2-for-4 at the plate, scoring a run and driving in two.

Savannah Melo also stood out on offense for the Eagles, going 3-for-4 with a double and triple. She scored one run and had one RBI. Addison Merritt chipped in a RBI double.

The first two innings were scoreless, but Gibbs broke through with two runs in the top of the third. Maliyah Smith singled and stole second. After two outs, Keck’s line drive double brought in Smith. Merritt then doubled to centerfield to drive in courtesy runner Madilyn Rutherford.

Gibbs increased its lead to 4-0 in the fifth. Jade Bell singled and Smith followed with a sacrifice bunt. Dakota Large reached on an error and Bell scored. Large then scored on a Keck grounder.

Carter got its only run in the bottom of the fifth when Addison Freeman doubled and two outs later scored on an error by the shortstop. Hicks was caught stealing to end the inning.

Malaney Etherton was the losing pitcher. She gave up nine hits, but three of Gibbs’ six runs were unearned. Etherton struck out four and did not allow a base on balls.

“Gibbs is just a really talented team, and they’ve been there before and had experience playing on that big stage,” said Carter Coach Nicole Light. “We held our own. It was our first time ever being there, but it was a good experience for our girls to get. They just got a little bit of a taste of what it was like to be in a big game like that. So it’s just going to motivate them to try to get there next year.”


HALLS FALLS: The Lady Red Devils (34-7) won their first two games of the Class 4A state tournament, shutting out Henry County 2-0 in Tuesday’s opening game and overcoming a 3-0 deficit by rallying for a 4-3 win over Stewarts Creek Wednesday.

However, Stewarts Creek got another shot at Halls in their pod Thursday and stunned the Lady Devils twice 3-1 and 3-2 in eight innings.

Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett defeated Stewarts Creek 3-2 in the title game Friday.


GCA LOSES TWO: Grace Christian Academy (25-11-1) lost their first two games in the District II-A state tournament, bowing to University School of Jackson 9-7 and Lakeway Christian 6-1.