The Lady Panthers started off with a 4-1 win over Jackson County, but that earned them a matchup with five-time defending state champion Buford, and the result wasn’t quite the same.
Chapel Hill fell behind early and just couldn’t mount much of a threat against the powerhouse Lady Wolves, falling 4-0.
The loss means that Chapel Hill will face the winner of the Ringgold-Blessed Trinity game set for today at 9 a.m this afternoon at 3 p.m. in a loser’s bracket game.
Chapel Hill managed just one hit, a double by Kelsey Crook in the second inning. Buford pitcher Bria Bush had 12 strikeouts in the game. The only real threat for the Lady Panthers came in the bottom of the seventh, when they had two on, but still couldn’t push one across.
Despite the loss, Chapel Hill coach Mick Harper remained upbeat.
“You don’t win five straight state championships by accident,” Harper said. “They are a good team and they beat us tonight. They don’t make many mistakes and they have so much speed, they put the pressure on you.”
The day started out well.
Harper said before they made the trip that Chapel Hill would have to play near perfect softball if they were to have a chance. They did just that in the first game win.
Chapel Hill had just one error, got solid pitching from Darby Demarest, two hits and three RBIs from Kayley Barker and took a 4-1 win over Jackson County.
“They played really well and the one mistake that cost us a run was really my fault,” Harper said. “I didn’t adjust the bunt coverage and they scored, but other than that, it was just what we had to do. It was a good way to start and hopefully we can build on that for the rest of the tournament.”
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third, when Hallie Rutledge got a hit and Demarest was safe when she laid down a perfect bunt. Anna Auglar came on to run for Rutledge and Breyona Boles ran for Demarest. With two outs, Barker laced a clutch double to left-center scoring both runners.
After Jackson County added a run on a botched bunt play in the top of the fourth, Chapel Hill’s Kelsey Crook doubled and scored on a hit by Sierra Smith.
Barker drove in one more in the bottom of the fifth, chasing home Shelby Robinson with a long sacrifice fly.
From there Demarest and the defense allowed just one more base runner in taking the win.