Brianna Taylor was almost perfect on Thursday afternoon at Frost Stadium.
Playing for their first-ever Region 3-A softball title, Taylor hurled a one-hitter as the CSAS Lady Patriots blanked the Whitwell Lady Tigers by a 5-0 final.
The senior right-hander was in total control from the first pitch. Her confidence level increased with each passing inning and there wasn't a thing the Lady Tigers could do about it.
Rebecca Muir, Whitwell's number-nine hitter, got hit by a pitch with two outs in the third inning. She was the only base runner until the seventh when catcher Kathleen Sledge blooped a 2-2 pitch just past the second-base bag for the Lady Tigers only hit.
"I felt really good out there as everything was working well for me today," Taylor said after improving to 23-9 with her second one-hitter of the season.
"We did what we were supposed to do and we also played great defense. That was the key," she added.
The Lady Patriots didn't waste any time taking the lead as they scored twice in the first before adding three more in the second. The way Taylor was pitching, one run would have been plenty on this cool afternoon.
Victoria Blanton got hit by a pitch with one out in the first and went to third when catcher Kiara Suttles blasted a double off the fence in dead center. Blanton then scored on a groundout by Jamani Greer. Suttles then raced home on a wild pitch.
Gabbi Queener led off the CSAS third with a single and went to second on a groundout by Mercedes Benn before scoring on a hard single up the middle by Taylor. Blanton then reached on a beautiful bunt single and both scored when the throw to first on a routine grounder was thrown away.
"We came out and did it as Bri pitched another great game," said CSAS coach Kaity Holloway after her team had improved to 24-10-1 with the shutout victory.
"That's not the first time she's pitched like that, but she has five pitches and they were all working for her today. Performances like that keep us in games.
"It's always a good feeling to score first and we played solid defense again. I'm pleased as these girls are playing some pretty good softball right now. We're doing the little things we need to do and it we continue, there's nobody we can't beat," Holloway added with confidence.
The Lady Tigers are now 23-6 following Thursday's setback. Coach Derrin Easterly felt like his team didn't have an answer for one of the best pitchers in the Chattanooga area.
"It was tough," he began after a post-game talk with his girls.
"We didn't adjust in the box and we made too many defensive mistakes. It's hard to come back against a team like that when they have a five-run lead. The Taylor girl is by far the best pitcher we've faced all year as she was tough today and had great stuff.
"Of course, it's always going to be hard to win a game when you only have two baserunners," he concluded.
Taylor and Queener were the only two Lady Patriots with two hits.
Britney Patmon, Briana Parker, Blanton, Suttles and Greer all had one apiece.
At this point, the Lady Patriots will play their sectional game on Saturday because most of them will graduate on Friday night.
CSAS will host Trousdale County at Central on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 3:30. There is a tournament scheduled for Warner Park this weekend, the usual home field for the Lady Patriots. Saturday's winner will advance to the state tournament, which starts Tuesday in Murfreesboro.
WHITWELL 000 000 0 -- 0 1 2
ARTS & SCIENCES 230 000 x -- 5 9 0
Long and Sledge; Taylor and Suttles.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)