Lack of run production ends WHS title chase
Stephanie Sturgis - Press Sports Editor
In a losers bracket must-win game, the Chattanooga Christian School Lady Chargers got ahead in the first couple of innings and then held Westview in check for a 7-3 win, ending the WHS season with a 36-13 record.
"The bottom line is everything comes down to batting. It started with our first region game. We've got to do a better job. Our hitting has been up and down and up and down," WHS head coach J.B. Suiter said after his team was eliminated from contention Wednesday morning.
Westview managed seven hits in the season-ending loss, but two of those came in the Lady Chargers' final at-bat.
Chattanooga starting pitcher Jennifer Long repeatedly baffled WHS batters with change-ups.
"Her change-up, that's what kept us off balance. In my opinion, you're not going to hit the change-up. You've got to jump on the hard stuff," Suiter noted. "You've got to be disciplined. When she got ahead of us, she destroyed us with her change-up."
Long struck out six batters, while not allowing a walk and scattering the seven WHS hits.
Chattanooga's Jennifer O'Dell had no such trouble making contact at the plate. The senior outfielder and leadoff batter turned on the second pitch of the game from Westview starter Shanna Chappell and sent a rocket shot over the left field fence to give Chattanooga the quick 1-0 lead.
Chappell then gave up a single up the middle before settling down and striking out a pair. She hit a batter but got a liner to senior shortstop Sam Giesler to strand both runners and keep the Westview deficit at one run.
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Westview's Kelly Gaston put down a bunt and reached on a throwing error by CCS third baseman Sarah Hundley. The next batter, Shaylon Robb, missed on a bunt attempt and Gaston was picked off first base on a throw by catcher Courtney Hitchcock to eliminate any chance Westview had to get the run back and switch the momentum.
Chattanooga added three runs to its lead in the top of the second inning. After Chappell struck out the first batter she faced, she gave up a single to shallow center. A shot to shortstop was misplayed by Giesler putting two runners on base. A wild pitch that took an odd bounce off the plate allowed the runners to advance to third and second bases. O'Dell struck again with a RBI single to center. A sacrifice fly brought in another run and a RBI double by Laura Curtis pushed the CCS lead to 4-0. Chappell stranded Curtis at second base when Ashley Bynum fielded a grounder to third and threw to first for the third out.
The Lady Chargers from Martin bounced back with a run in the home half of the second. With one out, Giesler legged out a nubber down the third base line and advanced all the way to third base on an errant throw to first. Giesler crossed home plate with the first Westview run on a Grace Ann Swaim groundout. Mckenzie Norris then singled, but courtesy runner Macy Vincent was stranded on base.
After Chappell retired CCS in order in the third, it appeared Westview would cut further into its deficit. Maddison Henderson slapped a single to left, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jenna Hazelwood and to third when Gaston bunted for a hit. Henderson was tagged out at home on a squeeze bunt by Robb. A groundout ended the inning with CCS still leading 4-1 and two more WHS runners stranded on base.
After dodging a bullet, Chattanooga added to its lead in the fourth. Chappell gave up two walks, including one to O'Dell. Both she and Chelsea Sims scored on a two-run single by Curtis for a 6-1 CCS lead.
After a scoreless fifth and sixth innings, Chattanooga added a run off Westview reliever Shaylon Robb in the top of the seventh inning for a 7-1 lead.
In its final at-bat, Westview showed some pride by plating a pair of runs. Swaim opened with a single up the middle and scored on a RBI double by Norris. Norris advanced to third on the throw to the plate. She scored on a sacrifice bunt by Henderson before Long got the third out to advance Chattanooga with the 7-3 win and end Westview Lady Chargers' season.
Westview loses only one player — senior Sam Giesler — from its roster.
"Sam has been a leader for us both on and off the field. She goes above and beyond. She will be missed," Suiter said.