Instead, the Lady Indians allowed a golden opportunity to pass them by, and the Lady Patriots made sure the Tribe didn’t get another one.
Jefferson County manufactured a run in the bottom of the third inning, tacked on three more in the sixth and beat D-B 4-0 on Monday in the Region 1-AAA semifinals.
The Lady Patriots advanced to face Daniel Boone on Wednesday while the Lady Indians entered the offseason wondering what might have been.
“We had runners on second and third with one out and we didn’t get it done,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “We just needed a hit.”
Cayley McCaslin and Lauryn Denton both singled and stood poised to put the Tribe on the board. But Whitney Leon, Jefferson County’s imposing ace, was able to escape unscathed.
Emily Anderson hit a screamer that seemed destined for the green grass in center field before Leon snagged it for the second out. Moments later, Leon recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
Jefferson County wasted little time seizing the upper hand.
Haley Taylor drew a walk, Haley Nelson singled to move her to third and Laura Dukes knocked a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield to bring Taylor home.
“That was just two great teams going at it,” Jefferson County coach Rebekkah Massaro said. “We hadn’t seen D-B so far this season, but they were tough.”
After escaping the jam in the third, Leon (29-10) settled in and retired eight of the next 10 batters she faced, helping her team cling to a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Makenzie Lilley (24-10) was busy keeping Jefferson County’s potent offense in check.
“She did a good job mixing up her pitches,” Massaro said. “She had a great change and she kept us off balance.”
Things came undone for D-B in the bottom of the sixth, however, as the Lady Patriots plated three runs without recording a hit. Three walks, two errors and one hit batsman spelled doom for the Tribe.
“Jefferson County had a good team,” Hubbard said. “And we had one bad inning.”
McCaslin and Samantha Lilley each had two hits for the Lady Indians (35-16), who outhit Jefferson County 6-5.
Dukes, Leon and Heather West all had RBIs for the Lady Patriots (30-11), who will play in the regional title game for the first time in four years.
Jefferson County advanced to the regional finals back in 2006 also by eliminating D-B in Dandridge.
Despite winning 35 games this season, the most in school history, Hubbard couldn’t help but lament the one that got away.
“It’s hard because this is a great bunch of kids,” he said. “I feel pretty good, but I wanted one more really bad. I wanted to go to substate.”