Friendship reached the Division II-A championship round for the third straight season Thursday when Kendal Kelsh and Kennedy West combined to hold Donelson Christian to two hits in a 2-0 shutout victory in the loser’s bracket final at Starplex.
That sends Friendship to Friday’s 10 a.m. final round against King’s, which won twice last year to stun the Lady Commanders and have won all three meetings this season. The Lady Lions need only one win. If the Lady Commanders prevail, the “if necessary” game would begin at 3 p.m.
“They’re a great softball team, but so are we,” said first-year Lady Commander coach Regan Ingram shortly after his team knocked off his former DCA squad. “We’re excited for the opportunity to get back there, to compete against them. Hopefully, it’s two great games.”
Thursday’s was pretty good, as backed by a spectacular infield defense, Kelsh pitched 4 1/3 innings for the win before West worked the final 2 2/3 for the save, escaping a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth inning, as the Lady Commanders climbed to 25-12.
“I’m proud of our girls for fighting back,” Ingram said. “We’ve had a lot of trials and tribulations throughout the year and I’m just proud of how they come out and fight together. This was just a great team win up and down the lineup.
“We have two great pitchers. We believe in both of them and that’s the strategy we have and we go with it. The girls believe in it. Whenever you’re pitching good and you have solid defense behind it, we’re tough to beat.”
Friendship scored in the third inning when Brooke Eakes’ two-out popup fell and, after stealing second and taking third on a bad throw, scored on Annalise Jarnigan’s single to left field.
In the fourth, Brice Dabbs parachuted a double to short right field and scored on Hannah Alexander’s drive to deep center field which was ruled an error on the outfielder.
DCA, which dropped a 5-2 decision to King’s in the morning, finished a 17-11 season.
Mt. Juliet’s Walker, Chambers play for tennis title
Mt. Juliet seniors Josh Walker and Dylan Chambers will play for the Class AAA boys’ state doubles championship at 9 a.m. Friday at Old Fort Park.
The pair outlasted White Station’s Neil Arora and Takuma Walker 6-7, 7-1, 6-2 in the morning and ousted Siegel seniors Ben Betzler and Chadwick Daughtery 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the afternoon.
They will try to win the Bears’ first tennis championship against Tennessee High seniors Jacob Marshall and Charlie Moseley at 9 a.m.
Wilson Central sophomore Michael Mercante, his school’s first state tennis qualifier, won his opener by default over Siegel sophomore Husain Al-Zubaidi before losing to Alabama-bound Sam Fischer of Brentwood 6-0, 6-0.
Friendship Christian’s doubles team of seniors Noah Baker and Sam Burruss also reached the semifinals in Division II with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over St. George’s seniors Mark Clark and John Slater Mann. But Clark and Mann’s teammates John Kimball and Walker Stearns rolled to the finals with a 6-0, 6-0 win.
Wildcats lead county contingent to boys’ state track finals
Seven Wilson Central boys will compete in the state track finals Friday at Middle Tennessee State’s Dean A. Hayes Stadium.
On the girls’ side, Central freshman Zoe Vlk finished fourth in the pole vault Thursday.
As for the boys, senior Joel Barlow will compete on the 4-by-800 relay and the 3,200-meter run. He has signed with Cumberland for track and cross country.
Senior K.J. Laribo will compete in the 400 meters. Junior Baylor Franklin will run in the 4-by-800 relay and the 800. Sophomore Russell Riggan and senior Nathan Peterson will run on the 4-by-800 relay with junior Grant Pody an alternate.
Senior captain John Elrod will run in the 1,600 and 800. A Tennessee Scholar, he will run for the Tennessee Vols next year.
Central has built a reputation, especially in the distance events, while not having a track which meets TSSAA standards, having to go to other schools for training sessions. The four seniors won’t run on the new track currently under construction around the football field.
This is the 4-by-800 team’s third year at state where it finished third last year. No team from Wilson County has ever qualified runners in the 400, 800, 1,600 or 3,200 and sent a relay team.
Also competing Friday will be Lebanon senior Irvaughn Newberry in the noon high jump. Mt. Juliet junior Brandon Karaim will run the 110 hurdles while the Golden Bears will field a 4-by-100 relay team. The running finals will go off at 3 p.m.