By Jesse Smithey
Gibbs High School softball coach Carol Mitchell wasn’t pleased Monday with her team’s offensive performance in the region semifinals.
She had no complaints Wednesday, though.
Gibbs took care of visiting Kingston by a 12-1 mark. Gibbs (30-7) will host Elizabethton (22-12) on Friday in the state sectionals with a berth into next week’s Class AA state tournament up for grabs. Elizabethton fell to Unicoi County, 5-2, on Wednesday — meaning Unicoi (38-9) will welcome Kingston (24-6) for a Friday state sectional.
Gibbs has won 10 state championships, the last of which came last season in Class AAA.
Seniors Olivia Wheeler and Sierra Hucklebee set the tone Wednesday. Wheeler went 2-for-4 with three RBIs — all of which came in the first two innings.
Hucklebee, who went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, blasted a two-run homer in the third.
“We came out swinging. We did a good job,” Mitchell said. “We just had a really good day of batting practice yesterday. It just carried over.”
Rayna Pendleton took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, one of her longest outings since late April. But Mitchell thinks fatigue set in during the fifth, when Pendleton allowed five consecutive hits.
Nevertheless, Pendleton showed signs of strength in her mound game — which is good news for Gibbs moving forward. But the Lady Eagles must win Friday or the momentum halts.
“Anytime you can play at your homefield, you have a tremendous advantage over the opponent. You’re in your comfort zone. You’re in your routine. You can stay in that. You’ve done it all week,” said Mitchell of hosting the state sectional on Friday.
“And, frankly, we haven’t done that the last few years. We went to Morristown East last year. We went to Daniel Boone the year before. It’s been a while since we’ve played a sectional on our home field.”
Jefferson County 8, Morristown East 1: Catelyn Riley belted a 2-run homer and Makayla Alvey smacked a two-run double to help the Lady Patriots win region and secure a Friday home game in the sectional round against Powell.
William Blount, a 6-2 winner over Powell in the Region 2-AAA championship Wednesday, will host Morristown East in the state sectionals.
Grace Christian at Goodpasture: The best-of-3 series will be decided Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Goodpasture will host. Grace dropped the opening game, 3-2, but rebounded to win Game 2 by the same 3-2 score when Sydney Feistner blasted a walk-off homer with two runners on base.
Tellico Plains, which lost 5-1 to Sale Creek on Tuesday, will either play in the state sectionals against Thursday’s winner of North Greene/Unaka.