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Powell claims title to cap undefeated Eastman run

By JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • Apr 1, 2019 at 12:47 AM

KINGSPORT — To load up and drive more than 200 miles round trip to win a prestigious softball tournament is no big effort for a program with a championship heritage like the Powell Panthers of Knoxville.

Tennessee’s defending Class AAA titleholder, Powell displayed its collective backbone Sunday afternoon at Domtar Park, rallying past District 3 rival Anderson County for an 8-7 win in the championship game of the 23rd annual Eastman-Kingsport Invitational.

The Panthers (18-2) won all seven of their games in the 39-team event, wiping out a 6-2 deficit with four runs in their final at-bat against the Mavericks (16-4) and then claiming victory under the international tiebreaker format.

View Sunday’s Eastman Invitational photo gallery

Powell and Anderson County are just 14 miles apart geographically.

“We actually a couple weeks ago went down to Gulf Shores (Alabama) and played in the Gulf Coast Classic and ran into them in an elimination round,” said seventh-year Powell coach Jeff Inman, whose Panthers won that one as well, by a 3-0 margin.

HARBISON STARS — TWICE

Ashley Harbison provided the game-winner in this one with a one-out, bases-loaded single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth, after Panthers relief pitcher Alaina Watson had blanked the Mavericks in the top of the inning.

Cayden Baker — placed at second base to start the Powell sixth per the tiebreaker rule — scored the winning run after a Hayden Dye sacrifice bunt and back-to-back, intentional walks to Lilly Holston and Haley Schultz.

Harbison had earlier saved the day with a two-out, two-run single off losing pitcher Hannah Bruce, capping Powell’s four-run rally in its final at-bat (because of a 75-minute time limit) in the bottom of the fourth.

“Ashley Harbison came up big twice for us this game,” Inman said. “She’s been swinging it pretty well up here. Hopefully it carries on.”

Harbison, a senior who had three RBIs as well as three of Powell’s 11 base hits, said she was just doing her job.

“It’s all thanks to my team and them having my back and being on (base),” Harbison said. “We wouldn’t have won without them being on, so it’s really a whole team effort for us.”

OTHER STANDOUTS

Holston rocked a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning for Powell, cutting into an early 3-0 Anderson County advantage.

The Mavericks had scored three times in the top of the first, Bruce knocking in a run with a ground out prior to Mallorie Overton socking a two-run triple.

Anderson County scored three more times in the third to assume its 6-2 edge, Abbie Buswell ripping an RBI-double and Emilee Fowler a run-scoring single. In addition, Aundria Long plated a run in the third with a sacrifice fly.

Fowler and Buswell each had two of Anderson County’s seven hits.

Powell began its four-run rally in the fourth with a single by Emma Wright, who had three hits and an RBI. Dye laced an RBI-single and Holston plated a run with a groundout — her third RBI — to cut the Panther deficit to 6-4.

THE ROAD TO THE FINAL

In Sunday’s quarterfinals, Morristown East routed William Blount 11-0, Anderson County edged Daniel Boone 8-7, The King’s Academy topped Cookeville 7-3 and Powell blanked Greenbrier 7-0.

In the semifinals, Anderson County beat Morristown East 5-3 and Powell clipped The King’s Academy 2-1 — Dye blasting a last-bat, two-run home run to give the Panthers the win.

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