The Chattanooga Christian softball team has won a bunch of big games this spring and they’ve beaten some really good teams in the process.
They’ve knocked off Silverdale, top-ranked King’s Academy, defending state champ Meigs County, Red Bank and Ooltewah among others this spring, but none of those wins were any bigger or more special than the last two at home Tuesday night against the Donelson Christian Academy Lady Wildcats.
Playing a best-of-three series in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA D-II-A state tournament, the Lady Chargers won both games and have qualified for next week’s Spring Fling action for the first time in school history as a D-II team.
Tuesday’s play was delayed about an hour by rain and the Lady Chargers were a little slow out of the gate in the first game, but they played really good softball – except for the first inning of the first game when they made three errors – to advance with wins of 5-3 and 8-3.
Junior Madison Hollis was the winning pitcher in both games while another junior by the name of Alex Behnke was the loser both times for the Lady Wildcats.
Hollis has never been an overpowering pitcher and she wasn’t on Tuesday, but she made some really good pitches at extremely critical times when DCA was on the verge of regaining the advantage.
She allowed seven hits in both games. She had four strikeouts in the first game and nine more in the second. The only walk she allowed came with one out in the seventh inning of the second game.
She was also a major contributor at the plate with two hits in the first game and two more in the second. Her double in the third inning of the first game plated the first run for CCS as they scored all five of their runs in that inning.
Then in the second game, she had an RBI-single in the fifth to give her team a 4-1 lead before ripping a two-run homer in the seventh to extend a 4-3 lead.
She was shedding tears of joy after the final out had been recorded and her team had qualified for the biggest tournament of the season.
“I’m just so happy right now,” she said while wiping a tear from her cheek.
“We knew we had to score some runs there at the end of the second game and I just love inside pitches. That’s what I got and it was a huge hit for me. We had sort of a rough start, but I was totally confident in my own ability and also that of my team. It was an entire team effort tonight,” the 16-year-old junior added.
While her home run gave the Lady Chargers a little breathing room, freshman Lauren Kay followed three batters later with a two-run homer of her own. She also had a run-scoring single in the first inning of the second game to put her team ahead 3-0 before the Lady Wildcats ever came to bat.
“I’ve been struggling at the plate lately, but I just told myself that I was going to swing as hard as I could. I got a good pitch and hit it well, but we are so close as a team and we’ve come so far this season. It feels so good to win both of these games,” the 15-year-old freshman expressed.
Older sister Rachel Kay was another hero for the Lady Chargers as she had a two-run double in that five-run third in the first game before ripping another two-run double in the first inning of the second game that got her team off and running.
She’s another player who was simply overflowing with joy when the action had ended.
“We’re making history and it’s really something special to be a part of. I’m seeing the ball well right now, but we’re final four bound and I’m just thrilled,” the 17-year-old junior nodded.
CCS coach Lisa Gray was grinning from ear to ear, even after getting doused by a cooler full of ice water.
“I’m so proud of these girls. This was one of our goals three years ago and we haven’t stopped yet. These girls are a bunch of fighters and they just weren’t going to lose tonight. It was all heart from them.
“We were in a really tight game there at the end and I told them we needed to get some insurance runs. We were able to get four and that was enough,” Gray said after her team had improved to 22-12 with its fifth straight win.
Donelson Christian ends an outstanding season at 19-11, but coach Brent Dorris kept emphasizing to his girls the fact they had a really good year.
“I just told them to keep their heads up. We gave our best effort in both games and have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We played pretty clean softball tonight, but Chattanooga Christian was just the better team today.
“They had a bunch of timely hits and we didn’t, although we had plenty of chances,” he added.
DCA had their best at-bat in the sixth inning of the second game.
Trailing 4-1 at the start, the Lady Wildcats got consecutive singles from Behnke, Alexis Wheeler and Kersee Worden before a double from Sam Zapton drove in the second run with only one out.
Hollis then recorded her ninth strikeout for the second out before ending the threat on an innocent grounder to first as her team was still ahead 4-3 at that point.
She finished the first game on a high note by retiring 11 of the final 12 batters she faced and she retired the first nine of the second game before Jaylee Lopez led off the fourth with a double.
Hollis and Rachel Kay had two hits for CCS in the first game while Lauren Kay had three hits and Hollis two more in the second game.
Sarah Logsdon and Worden had two hits for DCA in the first game while Wheeler was the only Lady Wildcat with two hits in the second.
DONELSON CHRISTIAN 300 000 0 – 3 7 1
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN 005 000 x – 5 8 3
Behnke and Wheeler; Hollis and M. Blevins.
CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN 300 010 4 – 8 9 0
DONELSON CHRISTIAN 000 102 0 – 3 7 2
Hollis and M. Blevins; Behnke and Wheeler.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)