STATE TOURNAMENT BOUND: Tigerettes Walk Off Against Whitwell In Extras

by Rusty Ellis

The Gordonsville Tigerettes are headed back to Murfreesboro, as they used a three-run eighth inning to defeat Whitwell 4-3 on Saturday night in the Class A Sectional round.

Gordonsville took an early lead, as a Makenize Herron RBI single in the bottom of the second inning gave GHS starter Kailey Plumlee a 1-0 lead.

Plumlee spent most of the night working into and out of trouble, as a leadoff double to start the third inning made it appear as if Whitwell would knot the score right back up. Plumlee found her strikeout stuff here however, as she struck out the next three hitters to preserve the lead.

Another leadoff double in the fifth proved to be costly however, as a one-out single drove in the tying run for the Lady Tigers.

Both teams took turns threatening to score from here on out, as back-to-back singles to open the seventh inning gave Whitwell some momentum. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, the Lady Tigers were looking at second and third with one out and a chance at the lead.

Plumlee calmly set down the next two hitters on strikes though, giving Gordonsville new life heading into the bottom of the seventh. The Tigerettes got a two-out double from Abby Brinkley, but she was stranded at second and the game moved to extra innings.

Whitwell finally broke through there, as they loaded the bases with one out after a single and a pair of walks. Then on a 2-1 count, a single was lined into right field to score two runs and give the Lady Tigers a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom half of the inning.

Just like all night though, Gordonsville responded with two walks to start the inning before Bailey Stewart blasted a game-tying, two-run triple to knot the game at 3-3 and put herself at third with nobody out.

Kara Thompson put the finishing touches on the rally with her flyball to centerfield, which would’ve been deep enough to score the run, but it was misplayed by the centerfielder and allowed Stewart to score the game-winning run to clinch the Tigerettes’ spot in the Class A State Tournament.

For coach Randy Jennings, it was a moment that he and the team had been working towards all year and it certainly felt rewarding.

“It’s exciting for the girls, we went over there and finished fourth,” Jennings said. “They just kept battling and battling there in the eighth. Bailey comes up with a huge hit, and we pulled one out.”

Jennings said he and the staff continued to preach the adjustments against Whitwell’s pitcher, and the players making those adjustments in the eighth inning is ultimately what led to their success.

“We didn’t make adjustments early, their pitcher wasn’t throwing hard and we kept just jumping out of our shoes trying to hit it,” Jennings said. “We kept talking about, but there in the eighth, we finally stayed back on it and started to hit the ball hard and we came through with a win.”

Lost in all the excitement was Plumlee’s performance in the circle, as she finished with eight innings of three-run ball to go along with 14 strikeouts. Jennings admittedly said she didn’t have her best stuff as the six walks would indicate, but every time she got in trouble, she found her control to get out of the jams.

“She would tell you she didn’t have her best stuff, and they did a really good job against her,” Jennings said. “She kept battling and pitched herself out of some really big jams a couple times. When you’ve got a strikeout pitcher like her, you can afford to give up a couple baserunners because she’s got the ability to blow three away and get you out of it.”

Any time a team can make it to Spring Fling, it’s a big deal. After all, it takes winning games like this just to make it there.

Make no mistake however, this was Jennings and the Tigerettes’ expectation all year long to make it to this point.

“This was the next-to-last box to check for us,” Jennings said. “This was exactly where we expected to be. We would have been disappointed with anything less than going back to Murfreesboro.”