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Lady Pioneers survive scare in tourney

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The Lady Pioneers have no issues with dancing with Lady Luck right now, especially if it means advancing the postseason.

Warren County was able to survive quite a scare from Cookeville Tuesday, winning 8-7 in the District 6AAA tournament when the Lady Cavs committed a game-ending error to allow the final run to score for the Lady Pioneers. Warren County will now face Rhea County in the winner’s bracket finals Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Central) – a win would guarantee the Lady Pioneers a spot in next week’s region tournament.

While no win is ever guaranteed, especially in the postseason, most assumed Warren County would have no trouble with Cookeville Tuesday. The Lady Pioneers had taken down Cookeville 10-0 and 19-2 this year, with both games ending in five innings.

If there was one person who didn’t expect the blowouts to continue, it was Lady Pioneer coach Gooby Martin. The matchup Tuesday played out a lot like he figured it would, although even he admitted it may have been too close for his taste after the game.

“I told the girls before the game I thought it would be close. I knew they would be ready,” said coach Martin. “It could be good for us. I don’t think we played bad, they just kept getting single after single and came up with some clutch hits.”

Despite it taking a late blooper to put the Lady Pioneers over in the seventh, Warren County seemed to be in control most of the way. Cookeville just wouldn’t go away though.

Elia Atterson, who finished with two hits and three RBIs, gave the Lady Pioneers the lead in the third inning with a sac fly. Atterson’s towering shot to right gave Alyssa Mosley, who led off with a single, enough time to score.

Warren County went up 2-0 on an error in the third.

Cookeville took its only lead in the fifth, plating three runs to go up 3-2. The Lady Cavaliers scratched one across on a Lady Pioneer fielding error, then took the lead on a two-out, two-run single.

The Lady Pioneers wasted little time answering back. Atterson knotted the score in the bottom of the fifth with a second sac fly, then Madison Hollis helped her own cause by blasting a two-run double that clanged off the right-center fence.

It was one of many deep balls the Lady Pioneers hit in the game, though they didn’t reap many benefits for their hard hitting. Cookeville took every precaution against the powerful Lady Pioneers, especially after seeing Warren County scored 13 runs in a single inning in the last matchup between the teams.

“They were playing us to the fence and we didn’t have a lot for some of the balls we hit,” said Martin. “It’s been 19 days since we played. There could have been some thought of a slow start, but I thought we really swung the bats pretty well.”

Cookeville erased the two-run advantage Hollis’ double provided in the sixth, getting an RBI single and groundout to knot the score at 5-5. Warren County went right back ahead with a two-out rally in the sixth, powered by a Shelby Roberts RBI single and run-scoring double by Atterson.

The Lady Cavs found the magic one last time in the seventh, tying the game on a rare wild pitch by Hollis in the final frame. Hollis was able to get out of the inning with the potential leading run on third by forcing a fly out to right.

Cookeville’s seven runs matched the amount of earned runs Hollis gave up in seven district starts this season (38 innings). The Lady Cavaliers finished with 12 hits, also a season-high for an opponent this year.

“Madison threw well, she may not have had her dominant strikeout stuff, but she was battling. They just had some hits that found a way and probably five infield hits,” said Martin. “You’re going to play games like that where the other team has it going. They were finding holes and we were hitting hard shots right at them. They were making great plays and shoestring catches.

“It’s good for us to face that and come away with a win. It’s not easy to win games like that, but we did it.”

Sadie Simmons put the Lady Pioneers in position to take advantage of Cookeville’s huge error in the seventh. The senior blasted a lead-off double, shooting a shot into right field that the Lady Cavaliers had no shot at stopping.

Coach Martin subbed in Jessie Young to run for Simmons. Young promptly moved to third on Aleya Esparza groundout to second, then scored when Cookeville couldn’t get an inning-ending out on a hot shot to second from Mosley.

If the Lady Pioneers can defeat Rhea County Wednesday, they would play for the District 6AAA title Thursday at 6 p.m. (Central). The winner of Wednesday’s battle between Warren County and Rhea County would have to be beaten twice in the finals – the if-necessary game is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. (Central).

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