MURFREESBORO — Brooke Kennedy struck out eight of her first nine batters to lead defending state champion Decatur County Riverside over University High 15-0 in Tuesday’s opening round of the TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling Class A state softball championships at McKnight Park.
The Lady Bucs (31-12) have little time to bemoan the loss. They will face Chattanooga Grace (27-8) in an elimination game today at 12:30 p.m.
“About all we can do is come back and forget about this one,” University High head coach Keith Jeffers said afterwards. “We just have to come back and be ready to play.”
Kennedy, a junior, had plenty of run support, providing the first offense herself on a solo shot in the bottom of the first. It was a powering shot over deep center field which set the tone for the game.
“I think it picked everybody up,” Decatur head coach Michael Box said. “It just got us started. There was some tightness coming into the game, but it really got us going. We preached hitting because we thought that would be key to this game”
It was a key as the Lady Panthers (41-5) pounded out 15 hits.
Kennedy was another part of the equation, fanning 10 batters overall. Her coach knew UH was in for a hard time when he watched her in pre-game warm-ups.
“She was pumped when she came out tonight,” he said. “She hadn’t pitched since Friday so she was ready to go. When Brooke is ready to pitch, she’s really ready.”
The Lady Panthers used a couple of RBI singles by Joanna Kennedy and Lauren Jones to go up 3-0 in the second inning.
The third was when Decatur put the pedal down.
Bree Linton had a two-run single, followed by Joanna Kennedy’s RBI ground out and RBI singles by Holly Chumney and Jones. They continued to tack on runs with a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly. By the time the damage was done, Decatur held a 10-0 lead.
Tanner Horton singled for University High in the fourth inning to break up a no-hitter for Kennedy. It was the only piece of good news as the Lady Panthers scored five runs in the fourth inning to enforce the a 15-run mercy rule.
“One hit out of however many at-bats we had isn’t much to draw on,” Jeffers said. “But, Tanner is a good player. She’s only a freshman and she’s only going to get better. We just didn’t play well period. We played bad all the way around.”
Haley Faulkner, who gave up an uncharacteristic six walks, suffered the loss for the Lady Bucs and fell to 25-8 on the season.