MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Meigs County won its third consecutive state TSSAA state softball championship Friday at Starplex No. 2. And while coach Jeff Davis said it's easy to compare them — "It's really the same as the first two. It's awesome," he said — there is one difference.
The Lady Tigers moved up a classification this year but still managed to win the title, defeating White House Heritage 3-1 in the Class AA championship game Friday night.
The Lady Patriots had forced a second final by defeating Meigs 3-1.
At the end of last season, after helping Meigs win its second consecutive Class A title, pitcher Ashley Rogers was asked how many innings she had left in her arm. "I probably have zero," was her answer.
So could she have gone for more this time?
"I could go another one," she said about another game, "but thankfully I don't have to."
Rogers did not allow an earned run in taking the loss in the first one, but she did give up an earned run in the second game. However, as it played out, she had enough to work with when catcher Aubrey Reed launched a shot over the fence in left-center for a two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning.
"That one felt great," Reed said. "I had been struggling a little bit at the state tournament. I wanted to go out at least contributing something positive for my team."
Said Rogers: "That was a great help. I jumped up and down. I jumped out of the dugout. That helped keep me loosened up a little bit."
And when it comes to Rogers' mastery in the pitching circle — she ends the year 28-2 — Reed has the best view of all.
"Ashley is definitely a monumental aspect of our team," Reed said. "She keeps us together and is a huge part of our success."
As far as Davis is concerned, he believes he has the best battery in the state. And both are class valedictorians — Toledo signee Reed at Meigs and Tennessee signee Rogers at Fairview Christian in Athens, which doesn't have a softball team.
"Unbelievable" is the only word Davis could come up with to describe what Rogers has meant to the Lady Tigers' program. "She's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player, and a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. And I wouldn't trade my catcher for anybody."
Kaylee Moore went 3-for-3 and was aboard when Reed homered. Arika Reed, who was 4-for-7 in the two games, scored the other run in the last game for Meigs (34-4) on Rogers' sacrifice fly in the third.
"We hit two or three shots that they made great plays on," said Davis, acknowledging going all the way in Class AA was a big challenge. "They probably have the best pitching we've faced all year."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.