Tigerettes complete season sweep over Lady Bulldogs
The 2019 season might not have gone as planned for either the Marshall County Tigerettes (7-13) and the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (8-17), but despite the fact that the Tigerettes play in a higher classification than the Lady Bulldogs and that the game had no relevance on the district record for either squad---however, the short 10 mile drive between the two campuses always guarantees a hard fought, closely played game between the two longtime rivals.
To add to the drama, the two teams met in Cornersville the previous evening with the Tigerettes nearly blowing an 8-3 advantage heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before holding on for an 8-6 win.
The battle the next evening in Lewisburg was every bit as entertaining as the previous contest with the Lady Bulldogs holding a 3-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the fifth before the Tigerettes blew the game wide open with a six-run fifth inning on the back of an Abby McGehee bases-clearing double that put the home team up for good at 6-3.
"It was exciting," senior Savannah Wooten recalled. "It took us awhile to get going but once we got going we didn't stop, that was for sure. That's what I liked about us tonight."
"It isn't harder (to play a close rival) but it would have been more embarrassing for us to lose to (Cornersville)," Wooten added. "It would have been a little bit tougher than it would have been to lose to anyone else."
The game was a pitching duel for the first four innings as Cornersville upstart Cora Duke went head-to-head with Tigerette vet Marlee Woodard, who has willed Marshall County to many victories on the mound during an award-filled career.
And Woodward saved the best for the final few innings of her last regular season sporting the blue and white for Lewisburg.
Woodward finished her regular season career for Lewisburg with a complete game over seven innings that included a contest-high five strikeouts, 13 first pitch strikes, and just seven hits allowed.
"I just felt like I gave everything I had," Woodward stated. "I did it all for my team. I knew I had girls backing me up. When you know your team has your back on the field, it's easier to just concentrate on the task at hand."
The Lady Bulldogs’ youth moment gave the Tigerettes all they could handle.
Duke also finished with a complete game pitching effort over six innings to go along with a game-high 19 first-pitch strikes and three strikeouts while sophomore Abbey Woodard led the team with two hits and eighth-grader Alicia Polk added a solo-home run, three quality at-bats, and one RBI.
After the initial inning resulted in a 1-1 tie, the Lady Bulldogs reclaimed the lead following a Daisy Braden RBI on a fielder's choice to first that scored Polk for a 2-1 advantage.
Cornersville added to the lead in the following inning when C.J. Thompson crossed the plate following a RBI single from Woodard for a 3-1 cushion.
That would be the last time Cornersville held the lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Elle Luce started off the scoring outburst with a double to send Naomi Hopper home to trim the Cornersville lead to 3-2 before Tatum Garrett stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a clutch bloop single in between shortstop and center field to tie the game at 3-3 with the bags still fully occupied.
And just as quick as the bases were full, one at-bat from McGehee sent all the Tigerettes over home plate via a deep shot off the center field fence to push the sudden Marshall County lead to 6-3.
McGehee stole third base and advanced home off an Olivia Wooten single in to right field for a 7-3 lead.
Polk sent a deep shot over the center field fence in the top of the sixth inning, but any hope of a Lady Bulldog late-game rally was quickly squashed as Woodard kept her composure on the mound and retired the next five hitters in order to end the game and send the Tigerettes into the postseason on a two-game winning streak.
But unless the Tigerettes go on a postseason tear and claim a sectional appearance, this would be the final home contest for both Woodard and Wooten.
"It's been the best time of my life," Woodward admitted. "I'm grateful to be able to come out here and play with my girls for four years. I've played with a great group of girls and coaches."
Like most high school athletes, some of the best memories were made off the field as well.
"The beach trips are my favorite memories of being on this team," Wooten recalled. "We went on a beach trip (for a softball tournament) both this year and last year and just the memories we made. Going out to eat at night and going to the beach together. Those are the moments I'll always remember."
For the Tigerettes, the seasonal clock has yet to strike midnight as they travel to Murfreesboro Central Magnet (MCM) in the first round of the District 12-AA Tournament on Thursday at 5 p.m.
The Tigerettes opened the 2019 season with a 14-7 loss versus the (MCM) Lady Tigers but were able to bounce back with a 3-1 victory on April 12 to split the season series.
"We played a heck of a defensive game against Central in the game we won," Wooten pointed out. "We capitalized on all of their mistakes, so that's how we pushed in our runs."
"As long as our defense plays well we'll come out on top," Wooten continued. "We have a good bracket so I'm pretty confident that we can make it out of there as long as we keep this momentum going."
The Lady Bulldogs start District 8-A Tournament play on Tuesday night when they host Mount Pleasant at 6 p.m.
Cornersville 100 111 0-4 7 3
Marshall County 100 060 X-7 11 1
Cornersville: Abbie Woodard 2-for-4, Payton Salsman 1-for-4, Alicia Polk 1-for-3, Aleia Childress 1-for-3, CJ Thompson 1-for-3, Haley Hagan 1-for-3.
RS: Polk 2, Salsman, Thompson.
2B: Childress, Woodard.
RBI: Daisy Braden, Childress, Polk, Woodard.
Team LOB: 4
E: Polk 2, Thompson.
LP: Cora Duke (6IP, 11H, 7R, 6ER, 3K, 1BB).
Marshall County: Olivia Wooten 2-for-4, Ellie Luce 2-for-4, Abby McGehee 2-for-2, Naomi Hopper 2-for-3, Mack Walls 1-for-2, Tatum Garrett 1-for-2, Riley Lentz 1-for-3.
RS: Savannah Wooten, Olivia Wooten, Luce, Gabby Cardin, Garrett, McGehee, Naomi Hooper.
2B: Luce, McGehee, Olivia Wooten.
RBI: McGehee 3, Luce, Walls, Garrett, Lentz.
ROE: Savannah Wooten 2, Marlee Woodward.
SB: Naomi Hopper, McGehee.
CS: McGehee, Olivia Wooten.
Team LOB: 6
WP: Marlee Woodard (7IP, 7H, 4R, 3ER, 5K, 0BB).