Postseason play is still more than a week away for the Bruisers of GPS, so a lot of region play remains to be settled as three Division II games remain ahead. But Thursday's non-region game might have been more important to the Bruisers' psyche than any of the region games.
Spotting the host Central Lady Pounders a three-run lead, the Bruisers staged a big road rally to earn their first victory over the Lady Pounders in three meetings this season, 7-4.
Now 19-6 overall, the Bruisers come right back Friday afternoon with a home region game against Brentwood Academy with arch-rival Baylor (Tuesday) and Ensworth (Friday) laying in the weed next week. Based on the performance Madi Stanley and her defense gave her over the final six innings Thursday, head coach Susan Crownover sees a team ready for the final push.
"I was kinda proud of them today," Crownover said. "We seemed like we started the game in a fog, and we did not play well behind (starter) Cody Swafford, who deserved better; But we made the change (to Stanley) and they showed a good response to my unhappiness after the first inning."
The Lady Pounders, who were playing their final regular season game Thursday, came out swinging against Swafford, generating four straight hits and scoring twice without recording an out. Stanley came on and gave up a sacrifice fly to Alexis Grampp, but contained the damage at 3-0.
The Bruisers batted around their second time through the lineup to tie the contest in the third. Bailey Davenport and Katy Richardson had RBI doubles for the Bruisers, while Stanley tied it with a two-run single. Central briefly re-took the lead on a solo homer from freshman outfielder Grampp in the home third, but the Bruisers were far from finished.
Abby Anderson, Richardson and Stanley had RBI hits in the inning, while junior Kelby Crownover extended her consecutive hits streak to seven in a row before striking out in the sixth.
"She'd been slumping." her mother the coach laughed. "People were asking me what I'd done to her."
Meanwhile, Stanley made the three-run lead hold up by working around two hits in the sixth and another with one out win the seventh. Central (25-13) -- coming off a big come-from-behind win over Ooltewah on Tuesday -- could not narrow the gap.
For GPS, Richardson had two hits, two runs and two RBIs; Crownover ended her night 3-for-4; and Lee Ann Jackson had two hits and a walk in three trips. For Central, Womack had a single, double and run scored on a steal of home; Grampp finished with a homer, single and sacrifice fly.
The Lady Pounders will next play Saturday on the White Oak Park fields in their first-round District 6-AA game.
Girls Preparatory School 003 400 0 -- 7 10 2
Central 301 000 0 -- 4 9 0
Swafford, Stanley (1) and Hobbs; C. Ainsle, L. Ainslie (6) and Powell. Records: GPS 19-6; Central 25-13.