The Greenbrier and Jo Byrns softball teams found themselves in a strange situation last week at the Gulf Coast Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Robertson County Schools suspended all sports games and practices beginning Monday, March 16 amid the coronavirus outbreak, and all local events were immediately canceled. But Greenbrier and Jo Byrns had already traveled south and were permitted by county officials to play.
The 30-team tournament became a 10-team tournament when nearly all the Alabama teams were forced to drop out due to school closures. That left several Tennessee teams, including the two Robertson County rivals, to play each other.
Jo Byrns beat Greenbrier 9-7 in pool play on Monday, and the Lady Bobcats got revenge with a 7-4 victory in bracket play on Tuesday. After the second game, both teams honored their seniors in a joint ceremony.
“The girls did great,” Jo Byrns coach Jada Head said. “They brought a lot of heart. They went in knowing that this might be the last time we get to play. They were just excited to be playing.”
The TSSAA has yet to cancel the spring state championships, and the organization cannot dictate regular-season schedules. Robertson County Schools are closed until at least March 31. No extracurricular activities are permitted during that time.
With so much uncertainty surrounding their seasons, Head and Greenbrier coach Janna Harris rounded up balloons and roses for an impromptu senior celebration. Jo Byrns recognized Jaya Herring, a Middle Tennessee signee, and Evy Helm. Greenbrier paid homage to Kimberly Cox, Lizzie Dalton and Snowden Scott.
“Monday we were good,” Head said. “(The team) kind of got down on Tuesday. There were a lot of emotions, especially for the seniors. It was bittersweet to watch them out there.”
Jo Byrns went 1-4 in the tournament. The Lady Red Devils began with their win over Greenbrier thanks to two-hit, four-RBI outing from sophomore Grayson Bryant. Kalie Morrison also had two hits and two RBI.
Korey Harris served as Jo Byrns’ primary pitcher throughout the tournament. She went four innings and allowed just one run in the first Greenbrier game. Harris threw more than 300 pitches over the five games.
“Korey was like a warrior out there,” Head said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. She just got out there on the mound and pitched great.”
Jo Byrns then dropped a 4-2 loss to The King’s Academy, which went on to the win the tournament. Herring and Carlee Scott each had two hits apiece, but the Lady Red Devils allowed a two-run homer to Blayne King in the top of the fifth that made the difference.
Jo Byrns ended its first day of the tournament with a 14-1 loss to host Gulf Shores. Herring had two of the team’s four hits.
The next morning, Goodpasture dispatched the Lady Red Devils 13-1. Herring was hit by a pitch and scored the only Jo Byrns run.
The Lady Red Devils’ stay at the Gulf Coast Classic – and possibly their season – came to an end against Greenbrier in bracket play. Herring led the way with three hits, three RBI and a home run.
“We’re in limbo,” Head said. “It’s something that no one has ever experienced before. I told them, ‘Don’t quit on it. Have hope. Get a sibling out in the yard to throw. Keep swinging that bat.’
“My last words to them were, ‘Keep working – it’s not over with.’ I hope that my words are right.”
Greenbrier loses to Goodpasture in bracket play
The Lady Bobcats went 3-3 in Gulf Shores and were eliminated in bracket play with a 4-2 loss to Goodpasture on Tuesday afternoon.
Greenbrier kicked off the tournament with a 7-2 win over Friendship Christian on Monday. That was followed by a 13-12 loss to Portland.
After Greenbrier plated four runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth, the Lady Panthers earned a walk-off victory when Tennessee Tech signee Mac Fitzgerald delivered a two-run triple.
Lady Bobcats Kayla Doble and Raylon Roach both hit home runs against Portland. Doble finished with four RBI.
Greenbrier ended its day with the 9-7 loss to Jo Byrns. Senior Snowden Scott had two base knocks and a pair of RBI against the Lady Red Devils, who pulled away by scoring five runs in the top of the fourth.
The Lady Bobcats bounced back with a 4-3 win over Lincoln County on Tuesday morning. Laura Walker plated Aubry Clinard with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth.
In the previous at-bat, Claire Henley tied the game with an RBI groundout. She finished 1-for-3 with three RBI.
Scott was solid on the mound, going all six innings and giving up just two runs on seven hits. She also struck out five batters.
The Lady Bobcats then topped Jo Byrns by three in the first game of bracket play. Scott went 3-for-3 with an RBI and picked up the win by pitching a complete game. Doble also batted 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI, while Carley Clinard drove in two.
Greenbrier’s run ended with the two-run loss to Goodpasture. Carley Clinard had a run-scoring single in the first and Roach scored on a passed ball in the second, but the Lady Bobcats failed to cross the plate again.