Big innings early prove too much to overcome
By Jeff Keeling (Photos contributed by Mike Higginbotham)
8:35 p.m. May 20 — Things started well for the University High Lady Bucs softball team at the state tournament, but big innings in the second and third by Forrest High School’s Rockets proved too much to overcome in a 12-3 loss.
The Lady Bucs will play again Wednesday in a losers’ bracket contest set for 12:30 Johnson City time.
Coach Keith Jeffers said several errors in a six-run second and a four-run third, very strong hitting by Forrest and an inability to string together a big inning on the offensive side all contributed to the setback against a team he said was the biggest he’d seen all year.
“When the pitcher (Katie Warrick) came up to bat, my catcher came up to maybe her shoulder,” Jeffers said in a telephone interview after the game. “She’s a big girl — strong.”
Despite the power of a team Jeffers called the biggest the Lady Bucs had faced all year, starting pitcher Tanner Horton got through the top of the first unscathed. In the bottom of the inning, the Lady Bucs plated two runs and things were looking good — but only for a moment.
A combination of solid hitting, including one shot Forrest’s pitcher “put into orbit,” according to Jeffers, and several miscues in the field by UH proved the team’s undoing over the second and third. The Rockets scored six runs in the top of the second, then added four in the top of the third, and suddenly the Lady Bucs were looking at a large deficit.
“After the third we finally settled down,” Jeffers said. While the errors hurt his team, Jeffers said the Rockets “hit the ball really well. That’s the biggest team I’ve seen this year.”
The Lady Bucs nearly got out of the second with their lead intact. After a leadoff double, Horton coaxed two groundouts and the leadoff batter was at third with two outs. The Rockets then exploded for five hits and a walk, and the inning ended with UH staring at a 6-2 deficit.
The Rockets collected 14 hits off of Horton, and eight of their 12 runs were earned. Warrick gave up five hits and had three RBIs on a double and a home run to help her cause.
Trailing 10-2, the Bucs settled in, with Horton pitching well and the defense playing much more solidly behind her. Despite producing some offense, his team just couldn’t quite string together a enough hits to create a big inning that would put some pressure on Forrest.
“We had several hits. Belle (Bright) and Barrett (Wherry), Taylor Treadway, Ari Ramsaran, Tanner Horton all had hits. It was just they spread out way too much.”
Jeffers said the team seemed to be taking a positive attitude into Wednesday’s losers’ bracket game, which should commence during the lunch hour, Johnson City time. It’s win or go home at this point for the team. Jeffers said Tanner Horton will take the hill again Wednesday, and the team will be looking to extend its seniors’ careers at least one more day.
7 p.m. The University High softball team dropped its first-round state tournament game this evening in Murfreesboro, falling 12-3 to Forrest High School out of Chapel Hill, Tenn.
The Lady Bucs jumped out to a 2-0 lead early but Forrest put up five runs in the second and added to its lead midway through the game. News and Neighbor will post an updated story tonight. The Lady Bucs will try to advance out of the losers’ bracket tomorrow.