BLUFF CITY — Scoring nearly a dozen runs will usually win a ballgame, but it didn't Friday night at Sullivan East. And now the Patriots and their magical 2019 softball season are done.
The Alcoa Tornadoes toted a heavy arsenal of bats themselves, outslugging East 14-11 to claim this TSSAA Sectional and a spot in next week's Class AA state tournament.
The defeat was a heartbreaker for East, which hoped to make its first trip to Murfreesboro.
"This was the farthest we've gone," said sixth-year Patriot boss Michael Forrester. "It hurts.
"You'd hope 11 would be enough, but we knew they had hitters. I don't feel like there was a lot of mistakes either way. It was just a lot of offense and they got a few more than we got."
The stinging loss ended East's memorable, Region 1-AA championship season at 28-16.
"We know that when we look back at this season — down the road — that we're going to be proud of everything we did," Forrester said. "And we are proud. But it hurts tonight."
Alcoa, which will take a 25-9-1 record to the state tournament, hammered away at three East pitchers from the get-go, finishing the game with 13 base hits.
Audrey Roach smacked a two-run home run to get the Tornadoes going in the first inning, before leadoff hitter SieAnna Cameron lined two-run singles in both the second and third innings to help Alcoa gain a 7-3 advantage it would not surrender.
"We knew that was going to be part of the plan because we know they've got some kids over there that can swing it," said rookie Alcoa head coach Sarah Bailey. "We knew we were going to have to score some runs to beat Sullivan East."
Italia Kyle blasted a home run and a two-run single, while Cierra Hudson delivered a two-run single, as Alcoa upped its lead to 12-6 through the top of the fifth ininng.
SAMS TO THE RESCUE
Chelsea Sams, who drew praise from Bailey, blasted a grand slam home run, as East scored five times in the bottom of the fifth to suddenly make it a 12-11 game.
However, a two-out rally, capped by a two-run single off the bat of Kassidy Moore, gave winning pitcher Kaylee Grace Lovingood a little breathing space with a three-run lead.
"I told them before the game that when they score we're going to have to answer, and we did," Bailey said. "Those insurance runs there late were big."
East collected 12 base hits, including four from Jillian Shackleford.
Sams finished with the four RBIs, while teammate Kylee Wolfe homered, singled and drove in three runs. Cayden Bawgus also hit a home run for East.