MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Powell and Ooltewah locked horns in a Class 3A state softball tournament showdown on Thursday and the environment intensified steadily as the game progressed.
Umpires were briskly escorted from the playing area and along the way a TSSAA representative told a policeman to speak with Robert Boseman, the father of Ooltewah’s star pitcher, Kayla Boseman.
“All I said to the guy was, ‘You’re awful,’ and kept walking,” Robert Boseman told the police officer. Nothing much came of the tiff, but it was an example of the emotions the game evoked.
In the end, Powell (41-7), which finished second to Gibbs in the 2017 state tournament, scraped together three runs in the third inning when Kayla Boseman’s throwing error paved the way for the offensive outburst and defeated the Lady Owls, 3-1, in the winner’s bracket final.
The loss snapped Ooltewah’s 11-game winning streak and Boseman’s string of 13 consecutive wins in the circle.
“This is really tough,” Ooltewah catcher Cheyanne Sales said. “I thought we played a pretty good game, but we got cheated. I caught the ball in fair territory and the umpire called it foul. He wasn’t calling anything for us and it frustrated Kayla, all the parents and everyone.”
With its place secured in a second straight title game, Powell will sit back and await the winner of Friday’s loser’s bracket 9 a.m. CT tilt between Ooltewah (39-7) and Walker Valley (34-10), playing for the sixth time this season, and the Lady Owls won four of the previous five.
The title game is scheduled for 3 p.m.
“Of course, we know Walker Valley and they know us,” Lady Owls coach Jon Massey said. “We’re going to get something to eat, get to bed and be ready to play in the morning. I know one thing; we’ve got to score more than two runs to win the game. Powell has a good pitcher and was ahead in the count the whole game and that put us in a hole.
“Hopefully, we can get back on track tomorrow.”
Powell pitcher Allison Farr retired the first nine Ooltewah hitters – six by strikeout – before Abby Keylon singled leading off the third inning. Already down by three runs, Keylon moved to second on Ally Chernak’s bunt single. Boseman flied out to right and Sales walked. Sydney White’s sacrifice fly scored Keylon.
In the fifth, Mabry Carpenter walked and advanced on Makayla Strickland’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Lexi Vogel, playing in her second game after sitting out following her transfer, slapped a single to left field.
Farr allowed only two balls to the outfield and was masterful in taking the Lady Owls out of their comfort zone at the plate.
Ooltewah managed three base runners in the sixth. Boseman singled, but was wiped out on White’s infield grounder. Tyler Sullivan walked with two outs and Farr struck out Carpenter.
Boseman had a no-hitter through three innings, but ran into trouble – some of it by her own doing – in the fourth.
Haley Schutte walked and Haden Dye singled to left field. Ashley Harbison put down a sacrifice bunt, Boseman fielded the ball and threw wildly over the head of Sullivan at first base. Schutte scored.
With the bases loaded, Boseman walked Madison McGinnis to force in Dye and the Lady Owls still had not recorded an out. Mackenzie Haley grounded out and courtesy runner, freshman Emma Wright, came home with the third run.
Boseman struck out a postseason low five batters and walked six, astonishing state line for the player headed to Mississippi State in the fall.
The controversial call Sales referred to occurred in the fifth inning. Lilly Holston led off. She popped up a bunt and Sales ran up the first-base foul line and apparently made a diving catch for the out. When all three umpires huddled, they ruled it a foul ball. Moments later, Holston singled to left.
The next batter, Schutte, popped a ball up barely off the infield dirt. White, at shortstop, backed off at the last moment and Strickland, who had run several yards toward the ball, dived to make a potential play. The ball landed between the two players. Boseman gave up a two-out walk, but fanned McGinnis to end the inning.
Each team made three errors.
Powell 000 300 0 – 3 3 1
Ooltewah 000 110 0 – 2 3 3
Farr and Lamb; Boseman and Sales.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)