Oak Ridge played into the District 3-AAA softball tournament with a 14-2 win over Campbell County at home on Tuesday.
It was the play-in game between the eighth and ninth seed in the district. Oak Ridge, the number eight seed in District 3-AAA, will now play Powell, the number one seed, in a first-round district tournament game at 6 p.m. today (Wednesday, May 3) at Halls.
Campbell County (6-15, 0-11 District 3-AAA) was the number nine seed and will not play in the district tournament.
The play-in game on Tuesday ended after four innings because of a run rule. If there is agreement, those games end when one team is up by 15 runs after three innings, 12 runs after four innings, or 10 runs after five innings.
The Lady Wildcats (12-16-1, 3-13) also beat the Lady Cougars twice during the regular season, with both games in April.
“I thought we finally hit our stride offensively,” Oak Ridge Coach Nelson Glover said after the Tuesday night play-in win. “We did what we were supposed to do against this team.”
But the Powell game will be a different challenge, Glover said. Powell (28-4-1, 16-0) has a pitcher who probably throws with the greatest velocity of anyone in District 3-AAA, he said. The Lady Wildcats lost to the Lady Panthers twice during the regular season (13-4 on March 23 and 17-0 on April 13).
The District 3-AAA tournament is a double-elimination tournament, meaning the loser of the Oak Ridge-Powell has a chance to continue playing.
Glover said Oak Ridge played some solid defense on Tuesday. Senior Jenna Murphy, who plays first base, made a diving catch. It was maybe her best catch and one of her top two defensive plays, Glover said. Senior Kaitlan Paine, a shortstop, made several nice plays, he said. She contributed to one double play after catching a line drive and tossing the ball to Monica Porter on second base, and Paine came close to another double play, Glover said.
Porter also played well on defense, Glover said, making catches and also connecting on two well-hit balls.
In other highlights, sophomore pitcher Hannah Phillips had a nice pitching performance, Glover said. Senior Mollie Turner, who plays center field, was 3-for-3 at bat, had a sacrifice bunt, and had four runs batted in, Coach Judy Siebert said.
The coaches said Oak Ridge has tweaked its batting lineup, trying to get more power, especially in the number one spot. On Tuesday, the first three batters accounted for nine runs.
Bailey Watkins, who plays third base, was the lead-off batter. Turner was second, and right fielder Kelsey Benjamin was third.
During the previous Campbell County game, all five seniors had at least one base hit in the game, which Oak Ridge won 8-2 on Senior/Parent Night at home on Monday, April 24, Siebert said. She said Turner led the seniors, going 4-for-4 at bat. Mikaela Porter had a single and double, and Benjamin had a double and a home run. Murphy had two doubles, and Paine had one hit, Siebert said.
Phillips was the starting pitcher in that game, going 5.2 innings and allowing only three hits. Kiana LaRock, a junior, came in in relief and didn’t allow any hits, Siebert said.
Before that game, the Lady Wildcats lost their previous six district games to Halls, Powell, Anderson County, Karns, Central, and Clinton. The pitching by opponents seemed to be one of the challenges. Powell pitched at about 60 mph, Glover said. So did Central. The Lady Bobcats also had 16 strikeouts in a dominating performance at Oak Ridge on Wednesday, April 19.
“It’s tough to score when a pitcher is throwing with that velocity,” Glover said after that game. “She’s pitching as well as anybody in the district.”
Anderson County pitched a little slower in an earlier game on Monday, April 17, but still in the mid-50s, Glover said. The Lady Mavericks hit the ball exceptionally well, he said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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