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By GOOSE LINDSAY
For the past three years, the Midway Lady Green Waves have won the Region 2-A championship and used the home field advantage that came with that victory as a springboard to making the TSSAA Class A State Tournament in Murfreesboro.
However, if the Lady Waves are going to make the trip to Murfreesboro this year, they will have to do it without the comforts of home during Friday's TSSAA Class A Sectional as Coalfield knocked off the Lady Waves Wednesday evening in a classic Region 2-A championship game, 1-0.
“They're (Coalfield) a great team, but we had our chances; we just didn't take advantage of them,” Midway co-head coach Craig Hutchinson said after the game.
“I'm proud of these girls,” co-head coach Robbie Viar added. “They've been through a lot this year with injuries and they've kept battling. The big thing is we live to play another day, We've been here before and the key now is to just step up and stay focused.”
For Coalfield, Wednesday's title was the first in school history and Lady Jacket head coach Jenifer Laurendine was extremely proud of her team's accomplishment, especially after beating a team with Midway's credentials.
“I'm so proud of our team,” Laurendine said. “And what a great program Midway has. Hannah Colyer and all those seniors have worked so hard to make their program what it is. They're unbelievable.”
Wednesday's game turned out to be another great game between the District 3-A champion Lady Waves led by Colyer and the District 4-A champion Lady Jackets led by freshman sensation Lindsey Fadnek.
Thirteen days earlier, the two pitchers combined to strikeout 34 batters in Midway's 1-0 nine inning victory. The strikeout numbers weren't quite as high Wednesday, but both pitchers were still dominant.
Fadnek picked up the victory after tossing a complete-game four-hitter with one walk and 12 strikeouts. Colyer took the loss despite allowing only three hits and no walks.
Colyer, however, did hit one batter and that proved huge as Coalfield's Erika Foster turned that HBP into the only run of the game.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Foster was hit by an inside pitch and she stole second on the next pitch to give the Lady Jackets their first runner of the night in scoring position. Foster took third on a ground out to Colyer and then she scored the game winning run when Andrea Foster picked up Coalfield's first hit of the game.
Midway also had a chance to score in their half of the fourth inning, but the Lady Waves weren't able to come up with a timely hit.
Alex Coffman led off the inning with Midway's first hit of the game and would steal second to give the Lady Waves their first of four runners in scoring position on the day. Coffman was joined on base by Taylor Narramore who drew a two-out walk, but both runners would be left stranded after Paige Moree hit a hard grounder to second.
Midway also put two runners on board in the sixth and seventh innings, but they would also be left on board to end the inning.
Krystal Rue opened Midway's half of the sixth inning with an infield single and she later steal second. After a strikeout of Coffman, Colyer reached on an error to give the Lady Waves runners on first and third with one out.
Colyer's courtesy runner, Kayla Roberts, would steal second to give the Lady Waves a pair of runners in scoring position, but Fadnek used a strikeout and a ground ball to second to get out of the jam with no damage being done.
Midway opened the seventh inning with back-to-back singles from Moree and Hali Morris to give the Lady Waves hope, but Fadnek again got out of the jam with a strikeout, pop up bunt and her 12th strikeout to end the game.
Although Midway hated to lose, coaches Hutchinson and Viar know the loss does nothing to keep them from achieving their ultimate goal of a fourth straight trip to the TSSAA Class A State Tournament.
Although the Lady Waves didn't know it at the time, Midway's TSSAA Class A Sectional contest will be at Unaka on Friday. Midway beat Unaka last year at Midway in the sectional, 1-0.
“It really doesn't matter who we play,” Viar said before learning Friday's opponent. “If we play our game and get timely hits we'll be okay. We've got an all-state pitcher and our girls have been here before. These girls have made a career of winning games like this.
“I'm looking forward to Friday because I know we'll be ready to play.”