Freshman Tiffanie More got Alcoa even with a daring piece of base running in the home half of the seventh.
An inning later, senior Lara Nuchols finished the rally with a drive to right center, scoring Abigail Walker from third, and the Lady Tornadoes remained the last area softball team standing with a 3-2 win over Pigeon Forge in a Region 2AA semifinal on Tuesday.
All credit, Alcoa coach Paul Talley said, is due the Lady Tornadoes.
“That wasn’t me,” he said. “That was all them. They did a great job.”
Alcoa (23-11-1) assured itself a place in Friday’s sectionals with the extra-inning storm back, a berth in next week’s Class AA state tournament in Murfreesboro awaiting the winner. After winning the school’s first district crown in 13 years last week - coupled with Monday’s dramatics - the Lady Tornadoes sure look a team ready for the show.
More reached with one out in the Alcoa seventh after the Lady Tigers put out senior Hailey Ray on a fielder’s choice. More promptly stole second to reach scoring position.
With sophomore Mishayla Byrd facing a one-ball, two-strike count with two out, the Lady Tornado left fielder took off for third. When the throw to third sailed into left, More trotted home to tie the score.
“She (the Lady Tiger pitcher) had been pitching us on the inside of the plate,” More said. “That time she came with a change up, and I just went.”
The decision to go was all More’s, Talley said.
“We felt like we could run on their catcher,” he said. “We just didn’t get enough people on base. She (More) had the green light.”
In the Pigeon Forge half of the eighth, Nuchols set the stage for her walk-off blast with a defensive gem. The Alcoa shortstop ran down a ground ball racing for the outfield over second, got her shoulders around and fired a strike to first for the second out of the inning. In the Lady Tornado eighth, Alcoa struck swift and decisively.
Walker singled to lead off the inning and quickly stole second. Alice Clevenger then bunted her way aboard a batter later to put runners at first and third. On a 0-2 count, Nuchols smashed an offering over the glove of a leaping Lady Tiger second baseman to send Walker home with the winning run.
“Coach has been working with me about keeping my hands in on outside pitches,” Nuchols said, “and that time I did.”
Sophomore Taylor Green collected the win for the Lady Tornadoes in the pitching circle.
Powell ends Lady Rebel run
In a pitcher’s duel, Powell’s Lady Panthers got the only run home on an error in the sixth, ending the season for Maryville’s Lady Rebels, 1-0, in a Region 2AAA semifinal on Monday at Sandy Springs. The two-hit shutout by Powell’s Danielle Allen brought to a close the careers of Maryville seniors Chancli Connatser, Kylie Whaley, Chelsea Weaver, Taylor Dockery and Ashley Reisser.
The Lady Rebels, who won their fourth consecutive District 4AAA championship a week ago, finish the season 31-7.
“We played a good game, and it was a good team that beat us,” Maryville coach Ken Hawkins said. “We’re heartbroken because it didn’t go our way, but give (Allen) credit. She shut us down.”
Alcoa/CAK soccer, Round 3
The Alcoa and Christian Academy of Knoxville soccer teams will meet for the third time this season after both took care of business in Region 2A/AA semifinal matches on Tuesday.
Senior Eric Lusinger delivered a pair of goals, with fellow senior Derrick Brodus adding a third, as the Tornadoes turned back Pigeon Forge, 3-2, on the road. The defending state champion Warriors had an easier time of it with Gibbs, CAK shutting out the Eagles, 3-0, in Knoxville.
The Tornadoes and Warrior were even at 1-1 at the half in last week’s District 4A/AA championship game, Alcoa getting a first-half goal from Brodus on his 18th birthday. CAK’s Ben Holt tallied his second goal of the match late in the closing half for a 2-1 Warrior win. CAK took the regular season meeting at Alcoa, 2-0.
Yoshida/Yodono make doubles state tourney
The Maryville double’s team of Ryota Yoshida and Yusuke Yodono punched their ticket to next week’s Class AAA state tennis tournament in Murfreesboro with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 win over Oak Ridge’s Austin MacKay and Adam Blocher in the Region 2AAA championship match on Tuesday. Yoshida reached the state tournament for the third consecutive season with the win, the Rebel senior advancing each of the last two years with former doubles partner Lucas Kelly. Yoshida/Kelly finished state runners-up each year.
McKelvey, Petree go big at sectionals
Maryville’s Julia Petree and Clint McKelvey delivered huge afternoons at the Region 1AAA sectionals last week.
McKelvey qualified for next week’s state meet in Murfreesboro with sectional wins in both the 1600 and 3200 meters, setting new sectional meet record for both in 4 minutes, 17.43 seconds and 9:06.04, respectively. McKelvey, a Duke signee, is the defending state champion at the longer distance. Petree only upped the wow! factor in the girls field. The Lady Rebel junior collected sectional titles in the 100, 200 and 400, anchoring a winning 4x400 relay for a fourth. The Maryville dynamo is the reigning state champion at 400 meters.
William Blount’s Randall Davis (discus), Caleb Latham (long jump), Genevieve Kupritz (pole vault) and Ashley Butterworth (400) earned qualifying spots at state for the Governors and Lady Governors, respectively. Heritage sophomore Lauren Barnes is through to state for the Lady Mountaineers after finishing fourth in the 3200 meters.
Alcoa record-setting football running back JaRon Toney is through to the Class A/AA state meet with a second-place finish at sectionals in the 110-meter hurdles. The future University of Tennessee walk-on is also through to the state decathlon for the second consecutive year.
The Tornado 4x100 relay of Vanderbilt Hambrick, Lajaun Warfield, Daniel Rockymore and Toney is also on its way to state, finishing second at sectionals in the 4x200. Junior Taharin Tyson finished second in the shot put at sectionals to reach state, the football fullback earning a qualifying spot while going through spring practice with the gridiron Tornadoes all the while.