After dominating heavy favorite Powell at the plate and in the field for five innings, Brentwood’s softball team gave up four runs in three innings, including Haley Shultz’s walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Lady Panthers a 5-3 win and sending the Lady Bruins into the consolation in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class AAA state tournament Wednesday morning at Murfreesboro’s McKnight Park.
Brentwood head coach Erica Powell was disappointed, but not discouraged after the loss.
“[Powell] is obviously the best team in the tournament,” Powell said after meeting with her team. “I think they came into the game thinking we weren’t going to be as good as we are, and I think we battled with them the entire game.
“They’ve got girls that are going to play Division I softball, some in the SEC and we battled with them the entire time. We hung a couple of pitches and they hit them.”
The Lady Bruins looked to be in control early. Brentwood scored first in the top of the second when Kaylee Seidel singled, moved to second on Jenna Galloway’s sac bunt and scored when Frances Horn rapped a double to left. Horn came home when Emily Cockrill continued her assault on the ball from the number nine hole with her fourth double in three games.
Powell cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the stanza, using Hayden Dye’s lead-single and Madison McGinnis’ double to get on the board. Brentwood answered in the top of the third as Kayla Mills reached on an error, scoring when Hannah Koenig shot a single to left. Powell conceded the run, cutting the throw from the outfield short and catching Koenig at second for the first out.
Then the well went dry. After pounding out five hits in the first three innings, the Lady Bruins produced only two base runners in the final five innings, with Cockrill opening the fifth with a single and Elisabeth Laviolette reaching in the sixth after being hit by a pitch.
As Brentwood was cooling, Powell was heating up.
Cayden Baker launched a home run to center to open the sixth and Kennedy Cowden followed with a speed induced triple. The Lady Panthers tied the game on a long Lillian Holston sac fly that tied the game before Brentwood turned off the spigot.
Brentwood continued to struggle at the plate in the final two innings before Cayden Baker singled in the bottom of the eighth and Shultz launched her rocket two outs later.
“We hit the ball in the beginning and not in the end," Powell said. "We’ve got to be consistent at the plate.”
The left side of the Lady Bruin defense kept the team in the game late, as Kaleigh Bottoms and Seidel dove through the dirt on multiple occasions to smother balls with eyes and make near impossible throws to first.
“The thing about my team is they are going to get dirty, they’re going to dive," Powell said. "They may not make all the plays but we’re going to go 100 percent trying. And that’s why I can’t complain about today; that’s a great team and a great hitting team.
"Of course, I’m disappointed that we lost, but we went 100 percent and that is all I can ever ask. They [Powell] got the clutch hits at the end.”
It was Powell that sent Brentwood to the loser’s bracket last year, in the now infamous two-day game. After a long rain delay, the two teams were forced to begin play at 11:45 p.m., finishing with a Lady Panther win at 1:47 a.m. Dickson County last year and Summit this year both forced the Lady Bruins to win district titles by coming through the bottom bracket, an experience Powell thinks will help.
“We know that we can turn around and come back," she said. "We know sometimes we are going to be on the short end, but we know we can come back and win tomorrow and that’s our goal now.
“We’re happy to be here and we’re going to come back tomorrow, just like when Summit put us in the loser’s bracket in the district tournament and we can dwell on it or we can realize we play again in 24-hours and turn around and come back tomorrow. That is what we are going to do.”
Powell 5, Brentwood 3, State AAA Second Round
Brentwood – 021 000 00 – 3 6 0
Powell – 010 002 02 – 5 7 1
Koenig and Casillas; Farr and Lamb.
WP – Farr (2-0). LP – Koenig (1-1).