KNOXVILLE —- Hardin Valley Academy’s softball team battled its way to a runner-up finish at the recent Gibbs Invitational at Caswell Park.
The Lady Hawks [11-8-1 starting the week] won a pair of tight games in the elimination round of one of East Tennessee’s elite high school tournaments.
The long day, however, ended on a sour note as HVA dropped a 12-2 decision to The King’s Academy, defending Division II-A state champion [called after four innings due to time limit].
Against the Lady Lions [17-3], the Lady Hawks picked up two runs in the top of the first thanks to an RBI single by Jodie Parham that scored leadoff hitter Sydney Dukes, who singled.
Emalee McCord, who also singled in the frame, scored when Mariah Hall reached on an error.
TKA scored a run in the bottom of the inning before exploding for eight runs in the second.
The Lady Hawks advanced to the title game with a 4-3 win over DeKalb County [four innings/time limit]. Again, Hardin Valley got off to a quick start and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
Leigha Grey started the game’s first rally with a one-out double. McCord walked, then she and Grey came home when Parham laced a double to right field. Parham eventually scored on a single by Hall, the Lady Hawks’ freshman first baseman.
The Tigerettes pulled to within 3-2 in the bottom of the inning.
Dukes had an RBI single to make it 4-2 in the top of the fourth. Her hit plated McKenzie Green with the insurance run.
Hall started in the circle and went three innings. She surrendered two runs, five hits and four walks. She struck out two. McCord recorded a save despite giving up a run in the fourth.
Hardin Valley opened elimination play with a 2-1 win over Powell. It was a walk-off win in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Dukes reached on an error, went to second on Grey’s sacrifice bunt and scored on McCord’s single. “... This is a total team effort for us this year. I think that there’s only room to improve and all nine players on the field really have to step up,” said Dukes, winning pitcher against Powell [five strikeouts] who also smacked a solo home run.