Nine-Peat: Baylor Softball Wins Another Title

Avery Shamblin Tosses Three-Hitter As Lady Raiders Prevail, 4-0

  • Friday, May 24, 2024
  • John Hunt

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Thunderstorms and weather delays for the second straight day weren’t nearly enough to keep the Baylor Lady Red Raiders from winning their state-record ninth straight Division II-Class AA state softball title at MTSU Thursday night.

Baylor beat a scrappy bunch from Chattanooga Christian for the second time in two days and fourth time this season with a methodical 4-0 victory in a game where the Lady Red Raiders did a great job of playing small ball.

Baylor has some power in their lineup and are capable of scoring runs in bunches, but they were able to score at least one run in three different innings to win another state title and improve to 28-6-1 for the season.

Baylor had opened Spring Fling play with an 8-4 win over these same Lady Chargers on Tuesday, but this latest game turned into a nice pitcher’s dual between CCS freshman Ella Claire Chaffin and Baylor senior Avery Shamblin.

Chaffin only allowed five hits and two walks, but Baylor did a great job of getting big hits in key situations to maximize those five hits.  Shamblin was equally outstanding as she finished with a three-hit shutout where she had 13 strikeouts and two walks.

Baylor coach Kelli Smith, who was on this team as a player when they won their first two state titles and has now won 15 as a coach, was all smiles when the post-game celebration began.

“Winning state championships never gets old,” she said matter of factly after the post-game awards had been distributed.

“We watched a softball documentary about Alabama winning a national title a few years ago and how they embraced the bad weather that really did some major damage in Tuscaloosa.  We made that same decision to embrace all the rain and storms.

“I thought we did a great job executing our game plan as we got on the board early and just played old-school softball.  We hit the ball hard, but right at people.  We didn’t have that many hits, but we got some big ones in key situations.

“We were able to make things happen, but this team has really had a lot of growth in the last month.  People take for granted just how hard it is to win a state championship, but these girl have sacrificed a lot of blood, sweat and tears and I’m so proud that all of their hard work is being rewarded tonight,” Smith added.

Shamblin has just wrapped up her Baylor career as a seven-year day student and she’s just glad to have had the opportunity to be on some great softball teams.

“We know that we are going to get everyone’s best game, but I’m just glad that so many of my teammates were involved in tonight’s win.  This may have been my best game all season, but I’m just glad to have had this opportunity for my high school career,” the University of Memphis commit smiled.

CCS coach Steven Rogers knew that his team was facing one of their biggest challenges on the season as they lost to Baylor in the state finals for the second straight year, but he too was proud of the way his girls came out and really battled from start to finish.

“We were able to hold them to five hits and I never would have believed that would have been possible coming in, but my little freshman pitcher did a great job of keeping them off-balance.

“Our pitching was outstanding and so was our defense, but we were never able to get our bats going.  And you have to do all three if you want to beat a team like Baylor,” Rogers said in his usual quiet tone.

While Shamblin did a nice job of keeping the CCS bats under control, the Baylor girls took the lead with a run in the second before adding two more in the third and finishing with one more in the fifth.

Kaylee Snyder doubled to lead off the second and was sacrificed to third by Chloe Cunningham before scoring on a sac fly to left by Amiya Leach.

Sydney Sharpe walked to lead off the third and advanced on a sacrifice by Addi Yates before scoring on a two-out single by Holly Merritt, who went to second on the throw home and then to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a single by Riley Oleksik.

Then in the fifth, Merritt slugged a solo homer past the light pole in right-center to conclude the scoring.

Merritt was the only Baylor player with two hits as she also scored twice and had two runs batted in.

Shamblin retired 11 straight Lady Chargers before Nyla Halfacre singled to left. 

Chaffin had a two-out single in the fifth before Alli Matthews doubled with one out in the seventh.  MacKayne Layne then walked to put two runners on with one out, but the game ended when McKenah Beamon popped to Cunningham at second, who turned and fired to Yates to double off Matthews at second.

The Lady Chargers finish their season at 21-19, but should be in line for a return trip next spring as catcher Emily Matthews is their only senior.

CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN  000 000 0 – 0 3 0

BAYLOR  012 010 x – 4 5 0

Chaffin and Matthews; Shamblin and Oleksik.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)

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