Silverdale Wins Twice To Reach DII-A State Title Showdown Against Tiptoon-Rosemark

Lady Seahawks' Phillips Ejected In First Game, Won't Play In Friday Contests

Thursday, May 24, 2018 - by Larry Fleming
Silverdale Baptist Academy's Maddie Tankersley delivers a pitch to the plate Thursday afternoon against Tipton-Rosemark on Murfreesboro's Starplex Softball Field No. 3. The Lady Seahawks tripped up the Lady Rebels, 3-1, to force an "if" game for the TSSAA Division II-1A championship. That game will be played Friday at 10 a.m. (CT) on Field 3.
Silverdale Baptist Academy's Maddie Tankersley delivers a pitch to the plate Thursday afternoon against Tipton-Rosemark on Murfreesboro's Starplex Softball Field No. 3. The Lady Seahawks tripped up the Lady Rebels, 3-1, to force an "if" game for the TSSAA Division II-1A championship. That game will be played Friday at 10 a.m. (CT) on Field 3.
- photo by Dennis Norwood

Silverdale Baptist Academy’s softball team is rewriting a script from the 2016 TSSAA state tournament.

Two years ago, the Lady Seahawks lost to Meigs County in the opening game. They won four straight to get another crack at the Lady Tigers, and beat them 6-0 for force a deciding game for the championship. Meigs won that one, 8-5, and took home the title.

This time around, Silverdale is traveling a familiar path. It lost 9-2 decision to Tipton-Rosemark in Game 1. The Lady Seahawks then eliminated Chattanooga Christian, 5-4, and on Thursday turned back Grace Christian Academy, 4-1, and earned a spot in the afternoon title game against, you guessed it, Tipton-Rosemark.

“I’m proud of the girls,” SBA coach Tim Couch said. “They played hard today and it wasn’t easy there at the end. We have good leaders and after the first loss we took it one game at a time, and that is what we’ve done.”

Junior pitcher Maddie Tankersley was outstanding in the circle, checking the Lady Rams on four hits and one run – that coming in the sixth when a Kayleigh Page error and Jade Barfield’s single upped the pressure meter with two outs.

Tankersley got Kristin Hunt on a pop-up to second and the Lady Seahawks breathed a sigh of relief of completing their drive back to a possible state title.

“Any game like this, you feel some pressure,” Tankersley said. “It was do-or-die at this point. We stayed calm and got the win.”

Said Couch, “We didn’t help Maddie with three errors, one coming in the seventh inning. We’ve got to do a better job with that. But, Maddie has been steady all year. We’ve won 28 games and she’s won 25. She won some big games and we rode her all the way.”

The Lady Seahawks returned to the Starplex complex later in the day and faced Tipton-Rosemark in what could have been the Division II-A championship game.

Silverdale (29-7) had other things in mind.

Despite playing the last six innings without shortstop Kaili Phillips, who was immediately ejected for crashing into T-R catcher Shelby Clifton trying to score in the first inning, Silverdale came up with a 3-1 victory behind another strong pitching effort by Tankersley and will face the Lady Rebels (27-9) at 10 a.m. for the 2018 championship.

Phillips will not be available to play in Friday’s game, but Couch said she would be in the team dugout.

“It was a hard play at home and she’s a hard competitor,” Couch said. “She wasn’t trying to hurt the (catcher) and she felt bad afterward. Their coach and the catcher understood. We understand the rule and I’m going to talk to the team in a few minutes, but Kaili is more to our team than just a player. She’s a leader and she’ll be the same person (Friday). We’ll move on because we have to do that.

“Kaili is a class act and knows what her job will be tomorrow. She’ll be there for her teammates. That’s why she’s going to UT and not UT-Martin, and that’s no disrespect to UT-Martin. That’s the type individual she is. We’re going to show up and play hard.”

Nelson Smotherman, historian for the TSSAA, said he believes Phillips' ejection was the first  in state tournament history.

Back to the opener.

As Tankersley contained the Grace lineup – she had seven strikeouts and allowed one hit through five innings – the Lady Seahawks went about giving the right-hander a quick three-run cushion.

Leadoff batter Kaili Phillips reached on a bunt single in the first inning, stole second and went to third on an infield groundout. Tankersley hit a fly ball to left that outfielder Brooke Plemmons dropped and Phillips came home on the error, one of three by the Lady Rams.

Phillips led off the third with a solo home run to left field. Savannah Turner walked and Tankersley singled to left, both runners advanced on Plemmons’ second error. With runners at second and third, Skylar Sheridan sent a two-run single to the gap in right-center.

That was the extent of SBA’s offense, but Tankersley maintained her dominance of Grace hitters with another strong effort in the circle Couch has seen all year.

Grace’s Jade Barfield started the sixth with a single to right field.

Tankersley retired Kristin Hunt on a pop-up to catcher Savannah Turner in foul territory. Emily Buskey singled to left. On Sydney Feistner’s infield popup, second baseman McCade Cooper and first baseman Kayleigh Page got verbally entangled in miscommunications and the ball fell between them. Page was charged with an error and the Lady Rams had runners at second and third.

The tenacious Tankersley got Heather LaForce on a fly-ball out to left and struck out Hannah Cooper to end the threat.

In the seventh, Tankersley fanned Plemmons and Olivia Ellison, but Shelby Rogers when Page dropped a popup in foul territory. Barfield singled up the middle, but Tankersley ended the drama when Kristin Hunt lined out softly to second.

“They had some good hitters and I was relying on my rise ball, curve and changeup,” said Tankersley, who struck out two batters – Cooper and Ellison three times apiece. “I felt good and this was a big win for us.”

Silverdale 3, Tipton-Rosemark 1: Silverdale loaded the bases in the first inning on successive bunts. When the throw went back to T-R pitcher Rachel Whitley, Philips broke for home.

Clifton had the ball in her mitt, awaiting the runner, and Phillips lowered her shoulder and barreled into her in Pete Rose style and was called out. Phillips was immediately tossed and the Lady Seahawks made a couple of position changes and the game resumed.

Once the lineup changes were made, the Lady Seahawks made an even quicker adjustment and took care of business.

“You hate to lose one of the best players in the state, but I told the girls she won’t be here next year and we have to find a way to fight through this,” Couch said.

In the fourth inning, Savannah Turner walked, stole second and went to third on Tankersley’s groundout. Skylar Sheridan’s double pushed Turner home with the game’s first run.

McCade Cooper put down a bunt advancing Sheridan and McKenzie Manning sent her home with a double to right field.

Meanwhile, Tankersley continued to dominate the Lady Rebels, turning in another complete game and allowing three hits and one run, with three strikeouts and no walks.

The Lady Rebels managed to get eight balls to the outfield and center fielder Marlee Montgomery snagged them all but two – Abby West’s double to left in the second inning, Bentlee Stiner dropped a fly ball to left for an error in the fourth, Lexie Williams singled and Whitley punched a single to center in the seventh that produced the Lady Rebels’ lone run.

Linescores

Grace Christian            000 001 0 – 1 4 3

Silverdale Baptist         103 000 x – 4 6 3

Cooper and Ellison; Tankersley and Turner.

Second Game

Tipton-Rosemark            000 001 0 – 1 3 0

Silverdale Baptist         000 300 x – 3 6 1

Rice, Williams (5) and Clifton; Tankersley and Turner.

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)

 

Silverdale's Kaili Phillips, right, was ejected after crashing in to Tipton-Rosemark catcher Shelby Clifton in this play at the plate in an attempt to score. With the ejection, believed to be the first in the history of the TSSAA championships, Phillips will not be available for Friday morning's championship final against Tipton-Rosemark.
Silverdale's Kaili Phillips, right, was ejected after crashing in to Tipton-Rosemark catcher Shelby Clifton in this play at the plate in an attempt to score. With the ejection, believed to be the first in the history of the TSSAA championships, Phillips will not be available for Friday morning's championship final against Tipton-Rosemark.
- Photo2 by Dennis Norwood

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