GPS coach Susan Crownover isn't one who relaxes very often when one of her teams is playing.
It doesn't matter if it's basketball or softball, Crownover is all about competing with 100 percent effort and relaxing is just something that comes after the fact when the big game is over.
The veteran leader got a chance to kick back and take it easy Thursday afternoon at T.A. Lupton Field as the host Bruisers claimed a spot in next week's BlueCross Spring Fling state softball tournament with a doubleheader sweep of the St.
Neither game was close and both ended after five innings. The Bruisers improved to 23-11 with their 13-0 and 13-3 victories.
The Stars headed back home to Memphis with their season complete with a 12-17 final record.
The key for GPS in both games was scoring early and often.
After a 1-2-3 first, the Bruisers sent 15 batters to the plate in the second inning of the first game. When the third out had finally been recorded, the Bruisers had scored 10 runs on 10 hits and two errors by the Stars.
GPS added one run in the third and two more in the fourth.
Junior Corey Swafford was the winning pitcher for GPS, improving to 11-8 after allowing just one hit in that first game.
GPS finished that first game with 14 hits, including five players with two apiece.
Lee Ann Jackson drove in three runs with a pair of doubles while Morgan Lane had a single and a double in that second inning uprising to finish the game with two runs scored and two more driven in.
Stephanie George, Kelby Crownover and Madison Boyd all had two singles and all scored twice.
Bailey Davenport, Katie Richardson, Raven Broom and Abbey Anderson all had one single each with Anderson's driving in two runs as well.
Katie Connor had the only hit for the Stars in the first game, a two-out bunt in the third.
The second game wasn't much different.
With GPS serving as the visiting team, they scored six runs in each of the first two innings to take charge from the start.
The Bruisers collected 17 hits in this one with Richardson's three leading the way. A two-run single in the second was her biggest blow and she also scored three times.
Davenport, Boyd, Lane and Crownover all finished with two hits.
Crownover drove in three runs with two singles while Lane had a two-run double in addition to a single.
Jackson also drove in a run with her third double of the day while George and Anderson both had RBI-doubles.
Taylor Battle, Haley Richardson and Broom also had singles.
Madi Stanley improved to 10-3 with her complete-game victory in which she allowed three runs on four hits. She also had four strikeouts while walking five.
After Stanley walked the first three hitters she faced in the first inning, the Stars scored their first run on a GPS error. Shelby Fox accounted for the second run with a solo homer to dead center. Paige Taylor drove in the third run with a run-scoring single in the fifth.
Lauren Bell didn't have any hits for St. Agnes, but she walked twice and scored both times.
Coach Crownover was all smiles when the afternoon ended.
"It's nice to be able to reward our younger girls with a chance to play. They're the ones who are out here every day and they work just as hard as the starters. And they're the ones who get to chase all of the foul balls in the woods and they don't get cheered for very often.
"We had a good time out here today. I like seeing the younger girls make plays and get hits. Our older girls enjoy seeing them succeed as well. That's what GPS softball is all about.
"Nothing personal against St. Agnes, but we just have better softball here in Chattanooga. And we're happy to be going back to the state one more time," Crownover added.
St. Agnes coach Mary Marable was just glad that her girls didn't roll over and play dead in the second game.
"It would have been easy to just give up after that first game, but we kept battling," Marable began.
"We just got beat by a better team today. They hit the ball well and they are much better than we are. I know they have a bunch who play club softball and that's important, but we just have a bunch of average kids who happen to play softball," she added.
Haley Richardson, who came in as a substitute in right field during the second game, was honored by her teammates as the Player of the Game after an RBI-single and a putout at first where she fielded what should have been a ground single in shallow right and threw out the St. Agnes runner at first.
While GPS has already clinched its spot in next week's Spring Fling, Baylor will attempt to do the same when they face Harpeth Hall in a doubleheader on Friday.
ST. AGNES 000 00 -- 0 1 4
GPS 0(10)1 2x -- 13 14 0
Taylor and Fox; Swafford and K. Richardson.
GPS 660 01 -- 13 17 1
ST. AGNES 101 01 -- 3 4 0
Stanley and K. Richardson; Freres and Fox.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)