COOKEVILLE – One more loss to Cookeville wasn’t an option for the Central High School Lady Raider softball team Thursday.
After falling 4-3 in the first District 6-AAA championship game to the Lady Cavaliers, who were coming out of the loser’s bracket and needed to beat CHS twice, the Lady Raiders started swinging the bats, including a three-run home run from Anna Spellings, and dropped Cookeville 11-0 to claim the District 6-AAA title for the fourth year in a row.
Dating back to the days of District 8-AAA it is Coffee County’s sixth district title in a row.
“I was disappointed we lost the first game, of course,” said CHS head coach Terry Floyd, who speculated that the Lady Raiders’ 7-0 victory over Cookeville earlier in the tournament may have made them complacent. But Floyd gave his team credit for coming through in the end.
“I was really proud of them,” Floyd said. “They did all the right things.”
The win means Coffee County will host District 5-AAA No. 2 seed Walker Valley at 7 p.m. Monday in the Region 3-AAA semi-finals. A win Monday will move CHS to the region championship and a shot at Friday’s state sectional game, which is one win away from the TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling State Tournament. Both the region semi-finals on Monday and the state sectional game on Friday are season elimination games.
Senior Ginny Clayborne, who was named the District 6-AAA offensive player of the year after the game, called winning the district championship “the best feeling ever.”
“Coming in here and getting your sixth district championship in a row—you can’t describe it,” Clayborne said.
Clayborne was very much part of the offensive onslaught in the nightcap with a double and a run scored in the fifth inning.
But it was the fourth inning that was the big difference when Coffee County piled six runs onto its slim 1-0 lead. Brianna Jones and Alaina Lusk opened the inning with a pair of doubles and were followed up by Brittany Williams, Spellings, Clayborne and Bethany Baker, who all reached and scored.
Spellings added to the damage in the fifth with a three-run home run. Spellings’ long ball drove home Kelsey Adams and Williams.
Jones picked up the win in the circle. She struck out six and walked three in five innings of work. Her winning performance followed immediately on the heals of 5 1/3-innings she pitched in relief in the first game. In that contest CHS lost 4-3 to Cookeville. After the game, Jones acknowledged that she was tired, but said she felt she could pitch yet another game.
In Thursday’s first title tilt, Coffee County rallied late to knot the score 3-3 but Cookeville added a run in the top of the seventh to take the lead.
It took a rally by Coffee County to make it that exciting, though. Cookeville led 3-0 before the Lady Raiders rallied for three in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jones walked and Lusk singled to right field to start the inning. Adams knocked in Andrea Fisher (running for Jones) with a single. Adams was thrown out at second but Spellings plated Lusk with a triple to left field and scored when the throw to third skipped away.