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Meigs County softball players celebrate after winning the TSSAA Class AA title last week in Murfreesboro. It was the Lady Tigers' third straight state championship, though the previous two came in Class A.

More was definitely less for me last week at the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

The Chattanooga area is tradition-rich in softball. But with nine programs present, the southeastern region was represented by more teams than ever before at the TSSAA state softball tournaments. That meant less watching for me.

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Kelley Smiddie

Oh, I saw a few things. I saw Walker Valley left fielder Carissa Frost and Ooltewah center fielder Addy Keylon in Class AAA each rob home runs with catches above the top of the outfield fence. Frost's not only was shown on ESPN's top 10, it was No. 1. Keylon saved a late-inning grand slam that preserved a win. But I'm also sure I missed seeing as many good plays as those, and maybe more.

Hopefully the reporting of softball games was at least accurate(-ish) last week. I had to trust so many others to keep me informed of things I didn't see, because my nose was buried in a computer screen as I typed away about other things I may or may not have seen. And thank you to all who helped.

There is plenty of data to reveal how southeastern Tennessee reigned supreme throughout the week. Every team from the Chattanooga area that advanced to Murfreesboro finished fourth or better throughout the five classifications. Six competed in finals.

The chapter and verse that best illustrates how it went for me was the second session Thursday — the next-to-last day. There were two games each on four of the Starplex fields. Only the first game on No. 2, where Class AA games were being played, in that session didn't have at least one of our local teams on it.

Three teams won championships. And there were plenty of interesting stories we tried to tell in limited spaces on the page.

Silverdale Baptist Academy's Division II-A championship was the first TSSAA title in the school's history, although I must mention the state championship coach Brent Brady's fishing team won in 2015. Also, the Lady Seahawks came from the losers bracket to win twice in the final and did so without offensive leader Kaili Phillips, who had been ejected in the bottom of the first inning in the first game of the final for what an umpire deemed a "malicious slide" while trying to steal home.

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Meigs County won its third consecutive state championship but its first in Class AA after moving back up this past school year from Class A. Right-handed pitcher Ashley Rogers, a future University of Tennessee teammate for Phillips, didn't look any different in a higher classification, registering 18-, 17-, and 16-strikeout games in the tournament.

Baylor won the Division II-AA title for a fourth consecutive year. It was the first, however, without coach Kelli Smith's No. 1 fan — her father, Don Howard, who died at the start of the season. Still, his presence was felt in the handmade gifts Smith shared with the team afterward.

The stories of the local runners-up were equally compelling. Coach Clifford Kirk, the commander in chief of 10 Class AAA state championship teams, led Class A's Sale Creek to the first final in any sport in school history. His trusty staff had a lot to do with it, too.

Walker Valley took its fans on a magical ride with several nail-biting comeback victories in a season that ended up going as far as it could go. Its other second-place finish was in 2005 in Class AA.

GPS played Baylor for a state championship for a fifth consecutive year, battling to the bitter end. Coach Susan Crownover, whose Bruisers also won more than 30 games this season, played every percentage strategy imaginable to give her team its best chance to win, only to fall 4-3 in 10 innings.

Props to Ooltewah, Class A's Whitwell and Division II-A's Chattanooga Christian for their state showings and their seasons as well. Looking forward to seeing another group of highly talented athletes at state next year.

On second thought, I may not see much of them at all.

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.

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