Alcoa, toting a heavy arsenal of bats, outslugged East 14-11 to claim this TSSAA sectional and a spot in next week’s TSSAA Class AA tournament.
The defeat was a heartbreaker for Region 1-AA champion East (28-16), still seeking its first trip to Murfreesboro.
“This was the farthest we’ve gone,” said sixth-year Lady Patriots boss Michael Forrester. “It hurts.
“You’d hope 11 would be enough, but we knew they had hitters. I don’t feel like there was a lot of mistakes either way. It was just a lot of offense and they got a few more than we got.
“We know that when we look back at this season — down the road — that we’re going to be proud of everything we did,” Forrester said. “And we are proud. But it hurts tonight.”
Alcoa (25-9-1) hammered away at three East pitchers from the get-go, finishing the game with 13 base hits.
Audrey Roach smacked a two-run home run to get the Lady Tornadoes going in the first inning before leadoff hitter SieAnna Cameron lined two-run singles in both the second and third innings to help Alcoa gain a 7-3 advantage it would not surrender.
“We knew that was going to be part of the plan because we know they’ve got some kids over there that can swing it,” said rookie Alcoa coach Sarah Bailey. “We knew we were going to have to score some runs to beat Sullivan East.”
Italia Kyle blasted a home run and a two-run single, Cierra Hudson delivered a two-run single and Alcoa upped its lead to 12-6 through the top of the fifth inning.
SAMS TO THE RESCUE
In the bottom of the fifth, Chelsea Sams — who drew praise from Bailey — blasted a grand slam as part of a five-run fifth that pulled the Lady Patriots within a run at 12-11.
However, a two-out rally, capped by a two-run single off the bat of Kassidy Moore, gave winning pitcher Kaylee Grace Lovingood a little breathing space with a three-run lead.
“I told them before the game that when they score we’re going to have to answer, and we did,” Bailey said. “Those insurance runs there late were big.”
East collected 12 base hits, including four from Jillian Shackelford.
Sams finished with the four RBIs and teammate Kylee Wolfe homered, singled and drove in three runs.
Cayden Bawgus also hit a home run for East.