The GPS softball team didn’t waste much time taking care of business at home Tuesday afternoon.
Facing the Lipscomb Academy Lady Mustangs in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Division II-Class AA state softball tournament, the Bruisers struck early and often as they cruised to a doubleheader sweep, winning 15-0 in the first game and then 12-1 in the second.
GPS improves to 26-7 as they advance to next week’s Final Four at the Murfreesboro StarPlex facility.
Senior Hannah Sanders was the winning pitcher in the first game as she tossed a two hitter and struck out three with no walks. Isabella Jenkins, a promising eighth grader, was the winner in the second game as she allowed three hits and a run while striking out three and walking two.
“That is what we were hoping for,” said GPS coach Susan Crownover after her team had punched its ticket to next week’s showdown.
“We’re excited to be going back to Murfreesboro again, but I thought we were ready to play and we sort of caught fire in the first inning. Both of our pitchers pitched well early and basically set the tone, but I thought we played well and I have no complaints,” the veteran coach added.
The Bruisers sent 17 hitters to the plate in the first inning of the first game where they scored 13 runs on 10 hits.
Right fielder Abbie Reel was one of three GPS players to get two hits in that inning, but hers really counted as she drove in two runs with each single.
Sanders had a two-run double before adding a single while Kaitlyn Songer singled twice, scored twice and drove in one. Brynley Oliver also had a two-run double in the inning.
Lipscomb’s only two hits came from leadoff hitters in the second and third innings. Salma Figeroa had one in the second while Ailey Galbreath reached in the third.
Ariana Whatley led off the GPS third and scored ahead of a two-run homer by catcher Ansley Blevins with nobody out that ended the first game.
The Bruisers finished that first game with 13 hits, including Songer, Sanders, Whatley and Reel with two apiece.
The second game wasn’t quite as explosive as the first, but the Bruisers scored at least one run in each of the first four innings.
Songer and Sanders both had run-scoring singles in the first while Blevins and Reel both had RBIs with groundouts.
Elizabeth Warwick had a run-scoring triple in the second before scoring on a single by Songer.
Then in the third the Bruisers made it 11-0 with five more runs. Warwick had an RBI-double while Oliver had a two-run triple.
The Lady Mustangs avoided the shutout in the second game with a single run in the fourth. Pitcher Emory Thomas led off with a single, Figeroa was safe on a fielder’s choice before Elise McFarlin walked to load the bases.
Thomas was forced at home for the first out before a grounder to short by Frances Tanner drove in Figueroa with her team’s only run.
Maddy Grace Hubbard had an RBI-single in the fourth for GPS’ final run.
Hannah Fisher singled with two outs in the fifth for Lipscomb before Thomas grounded out to end the game.
Sanders played her final two games on T.A. Lupton Field and she improved to 19-4 with her victory in the first game. The 18-year-old senior is heading to the University of Alabama in the fall where she plans to major in criminology and get involved in the ROTC program.
She almost had a tough time talking about her final appearance at home.
“Please don’t make me cry,” she began with a smile on her face.
“I never thought that my time here at GPS would mean so much to me, but it’s been an incredible experience. I feel like we did a lot of things well today and we just need to carry this same confidence to Murfreesboro next week. But it’s been a good ride for me,” she nodded.
Warwick is just a junior, but she’s the spoon that stirs the drink for the Bruisers as she’s their leadoff hitter and she often inspires the defense with her play in center.
She finished Tuesday’s play with three hits, five runs scored and three runs batted in. She also made the defensive play of the game with a long running catch of a drive toward the game in right-center in the second inning of the second game.
“I thought we played well as a team today, but we just need to stay hot going into next week,” she said later.
“I’m so proud of Isabella as she really got out there and competed today. And I had a great view of the action from center, but this feels really good,” Warwick nodded.
Warwick, Songer and Oliver all had two hits in the second game and all had two runs batted in. Sanders, Blevins, Reel and Hubbard also drove in runs for the winners.
FIRST GAME SUMMARY
LIPSCOMB ACADEMY 000 – 0 2 1
GIRLS PREPARATORY SCHOOL (13)02 – 15 13 0
Thomas and Griffin; Sanders and Blevins.
SECOND GAME SUMMARY
LIPSCOMB ACADEMY 000 10 – 1 3 4
GIRLS PREPARATORY SCHOOL 425 1x – 12 11 0
Thomas and Griffin; Jenkins and Blevins, Wilson (4).
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)