Banner Sports Writer
BENTON — When it all came down to it, the Polk County Lady Wildcats came up short in only one area in the Region 3-AA Softball Championship game — a timely hit.
Despite having numerous opportunities to bring what became a 10-inning championship game to a close, the Lady Wildcats ultimately fell to Chattanooga Central, 5-4.
“We had good pitching and played good defense, but in big games it’s not how many hits you get, it’s when you get them,” Polk head coach Bill Triplett stated. “We just didn’t get a timely hit today. We had several opportunities, we just didn’t get a hit when we needed one.”
With the threat of heavy rainfall looming, it was the Lady Pounders who broke ahead first, taking a two-run lead in the top of the first inning.
After seeing their lead-off batter strike out, Kaitlyn Williams was able to reach first on a ground ball.
Briana Muller stepped up to the plate and became an equalizing force, as she blasted one over the center-field fence.
Tied with Central at 2-all, Hannah Triplett followed up with a base hit of her own.
After courtesy runner Taylor Carroll stole second base, the opportunity to get a third run was presented to the Lady Wildcats on a wild pitch.
As Carroll ran to third, Hannah Withrow took the opportunity for a first base steal attempt of her own. An overthrown ball played to Withrow’s favor as she made it to first while Carroll came in for the run.
The game turned into a battle of defense, and no more runs were to be had until the bottom of the sixth.
Leading off for the Lady Wildcats, Muller knocked another one over the fence and made a repeat trip around the bases, giving her team a tentative two-run lead.
Central was able to even things up in the top of the seventh.
A bouncing ground ball got Sam Scott safely to first base, and shortly afterward she was able to steal second during Alexis Grampp’s at bat.
Grampp’s hit trailed just inside the left field line, giving the Lady Pounders runners on first and third.
After getting one out, a wild pitch to Brittney Sylvester gave Scott the opportunity to come in.
With the next swing of the bat, Sylvester got an RBI to tie up the game.
Polk attempted to finish off Central in the bottom of the seventh, but a double play by the Lady Pounders forced the game into extra innings.
Central started off the top of the eighth with a double by Destiny Payton, which led to Muller being sent in to take over for H. Triplett in the circle.
Both teams were held scoreless until the top of the 10th inning.
Having to enact softball’s international tiebreaker sequence, the teams each started out with a runner on second.
The fourth Lady Pounder stepped up to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs, but only had to step aside on a wild pitch to allow Chasidy Anesley the chance to get the tie-breaking run.
“Briana has played well all year. She’s down on herself for that last at bat, but she gave us the opportunity to win the game and that’s all you can ask for,” Triplett commented.
As Muller stepped up to the plate, Polk had runners in scoring position and two outs on the board.
Unfortunately, the hard-hitting Muller was unable to get a well-placed hit, and was out at first.
“Briana has played well all year. She’s down on herself for that last at bat, but she gave us the opportunity to win the game and that’s all you can ask for,” Coach Triplett commented.
The Lady ’Cats will hit the road for the TSSAA Sectional, but will not know until tonight, weather permitting, if they will be playing DeKalb County (39-5) or Sequatchie County (20-12).
“We’re still in it and have 21 outs left. It doesn’t matter where we go, we’ve still got a chance. A lot of people win on the road,” Triplett declared.
LADY POUNDERS 5, LADY WILDCATS 4
Central 200 000 200 1 — 5 11 1
Polk 300 001 000 0 — 4 7 1
WP: Brooke Parrott (9-7), 11 K’s. LP: Briana Muller (9-4). HR: Muller 2 (PC). 2B: Parrott, Britney Sylvester, Destiny Payton (C). Highlights: Sylvester 2-3, RBI; Ally Welch 2-4; Alexis Grampp 2-5, 2 runs; Sam Scott 2-5, run; Chasidy Anesley 2 RBI (C); Muller 3-5, 3 RBIs, 2 runs (PC). Records: Central 20-21; Polk County 25-7.