The King’s Academy softball team isn’t going to Murfreesboro next week simply happy to be there. It’s championship or bust for the Lady Lions.
Tennessee softball signee Kaylan Cole pitched a five-hit gem and also drove in two runs, as The King’s Academy knocked off Battle Ground Academy, 10-1, on Thursday afternoon to win its best-of-3 sectional series and advance to next week’s Spring Fling in Murfreesboro for the fourth time in five years. TKA finished as Division II-A runner-up in 2015 before winning consecutive state titles in 2016-17.
“She did great. She only gave up five hits, and I was really impressed with BGA,” said TKA coach Marc Weekly. “I thought they were really well coached. Their kids took their hacks.
“But Kaylan was just hitting her spots, and she did really well. And our bats were where they usually are, so that helped, as well.”
The King’s Academy’s sectional series got off to a rocky start, and it dropped Game 1 to BGA, 7-1 in eight innings, on Wednesday. TKA took Game 2 the same night, 10-5.
“When your backs are against the wall, you’re always worried about things a little bit,” said Weekly. “(But) we were calm and collected.”
The Lady Lions stormed to a 6-0 lead Thursday behind an RBI double from Blayne King and two-run homer from K.J. Ammons.
Cole later helped her cause with a two-run single for an 8-1 lead.
“I think anything less than a (state) championship, the girls won’t accept,” said Weekly. ”They understand you have to be good to get there and lucky to win it. But, they’re ready and they’re prepared. We feel good about our chances, but there are some good teams out there.”
TKA, Chattanooga Christian School and Friendship Christian School have secured their spots in next week’s Division II-A state tournament field of four. Grace Christian Academy and Davidson Academy are vying for the final spot.
TKA will begin play Wednesday in Murfreesboro.
The CAK baseball team will have an opportunity to win a third consecutive state championship next week thanks to capturing a best-of-three sectional series Thursday at Friendship Christian Academy.
The Warriors swept the first two games Thursday to advance, claiming Game 1 by a 4-3 margin and Game 2 by a 2-0 score.
CAK’s top two pitchers didn’t need any relief, either. Jacob Tate, the Kentucky signee and 2018 5Star Preps Baseball Player of the Year, went seven innings in the first game, striking out four and walking none. He scattered five hits and allowed three earned runs; he also went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI. Connor Jurek gave him some run support with a 2-for-4 day with two RBIs. Jurek’s RBI single in the top of the sixth put CAK ahead for good.
ETSU signee Hunter Loyd was lights out on the mound in Game 2. He went seven innings, allowing just one hit while striking out seven and walking two. But it wasn’t until Andrew Kribbs and Cole Campbell drove in a run apiece in the bottom of the sixth that Loyd and CAK got the upper hand.
Loyd closed out FCS in the seventh, striking out the final batter of the night to seal the win.
Webb School of Knoxville dropped its best-of-three series to visiting Columbia Academy. The Spartans fell in nine innings, 1-0, in Game 1. They led Game 2 by a 2-1 margin after four innings but couldn’t hold on — losing, 8-2.
Gatlinburg-Pittman is a win away from having a chance to defend its Class A state championship.
The Highlanders got off to a slow start Thursday in the Region 1-A Championship against Chuckey-Doak. But three second-half goals propelled the Highlanders to a comfortable 4-0 win, securing them a home sectional game at noon on Saturday against Oneida, the Region 2-A runner-up. Sweetwater knocked off Oneida, 3-2, Wednesday and will welcome Chuckey-Doak in a state sectional on Saturday.
Ricardo Turcios led Gatlinburg-Pittman (14-3-1) with two goals Thursday. Josue Chicas and Luis Ortiz added a goal each in the win.
Greeneville outlasted Sevier County in overtime, 2-1, to win Region 1-AA. The defending state-champion Greene Devils will welcome Region 2-AA runner-up South-Doyle in a state sectional on Saturday while Region 2-AA champion Catholic will play host to Sevier County. Catholic beat South-Doyle, 1-0, Thursday.
Greeneville and Sevier County played to a 0-0 score after regulation. John Stewart scored the go-ahead goal in the second overtime to clinch the team’s 10th consecutive region championship, per The Greeneville Sun.
Loudon defeated Cumberland County, 3-1, Thursday to win Region 3-AA. The Redskins, which finished state runners-up last season to Greeneville, will host Sequoyah on Saturday in a state sectional.
Bearden fell at Science Hill, 1-0 in the Region 1-AAA Championship, on Thursday. The Bulldogs now find themselves in a Saturday sectional against rival Farragut for the right to go the Class AAA state tournament. Farragut beat Karns 2-0 in the Region 2-AAA championship. Karns will play at Science Hill.
Farragut knocked off Bearden in the regular-season meeting, 3-2, on April 26.