BENTON, Tenn. — Meigs County's Morgan Boggess must've wanted things done right in Tuesday's District 5-AA high school softball opener against Polk County, because she did it herself.
The sophomore right-handed pitcher had exerted her way through eight shutout innings but was still in need of a run in the top of the ninth when she came to bat. A shot over the left-field fence later, she went back to the pitching circle and finished off the Lady Tigers' 3-0 victory.
"It was a big win," Boggess said. "It was a district game and against one of the best teams in the district we're going to face."
When the international tiebreaker went into effect in the eighth inning, Boggess and Polk counterpart Jordan Triplett worked out of situations with runners on third base and one out.
Meigs (9-4) started the ninth with leadoff batter Jessica Swafford on second. Wildkittens shortstop Caroline Jenkins then made a diving stop of Madison Hampton's hit that at least kept Swafford at second.
Polk County coach Bill Triplett held a conference in the circle before Boggess, who was 2-for-3 with a double to that point, came to bat.
"It was definitely a bunt situation," Meigs coach Jeff Davis said, "for anybody else."
Boggess said she tried to relax and treat the situation as if it was just another at-bat but approached it cautiously in looking for a strike.
"I told her they may not give her anything to hit," Davis said of his brief talk with Boggess while Polk planned its defensive strategy. "I told her, 'Bases loaded ain't a bad thing with nobody out and a good hitter behind you.'"
Instead, Boggess liked the first pitch she saw and unleashed on it.
"I went out and we talked about our bunt coverage," Coach Triplett said. "Of course, she swung away and hit it out. That's just the way it happens."
Boggess, who ended up with eight strikeouts, although none after the fifth inning, praised her defense. The first two of the six hits she gave up were pop flies, one to the outfield and one along the first-base line. She walked one and hit two.
Triplett's only strikeouts were in the first and third, but she retired 14 in a row in one stretch. She was pulled after the homer, her sixth hit allowed along with no walks.
"She keeps us off balance -- and has for three years," Davis said. "She's got us out on our front foot."
Triplett, the coach's second cousin, additionally went 2-for-3 and teammate Danielle Harvey was 2-for-5.
Four of the five Lady Tigers stranded were in scoring position. Polk (7-6) left 12 on, eight at either second or third.
"In close games against evenly matched teams it comes down to three things," Coach Triplett said. "One is pitching, and we got that. Another is defense, and we got that. The other is timely hitting, and we didn't get timely hitting."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.