For just the third time in the history of the Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Softball Classic, Team Georgia was able to keep Team Tennessee from collecting a win in the annual doubleheader.

However, unlike 2007 and 2011, Georgia was unable to enjoy a sweep.

For just the second time in this history of the Classic, dating back to 1998, over 500 softball fans at Chattanooga's Frost Stadium witnessed a tie as the two teams finished seven innings of Game 1 all knotted up, 7-7.

With the opening game having already lasted over two-and-a-half hours, and with the nightcap still to be played, head coaches Daniel Hackett (Ringgold) and Nikki Robbs (Sale Creek) agreed to keep the tie so Game 2 could get started as early as possible.

In the nightcap, Team Georgia won for the just the first time since 2016 with a 5-3 victory.

Caroline Hemphill (Ringgold) took home the Stump Martin Most Valuable Player Award, named for the Classic's founder. Hemphill ripped a two-run double in the top of the second inning of Game 1 to give Georgia an early lead. She later came through with a clutch two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 2 to help her team extend what had been a narrow 2-1 lead.

Her four total RBIs tied an All-Star Classic record, previously set by Walker Valley's Ashley Bain in 2005 and Ringgold's Meagan Qualls in 2007.

Emma Minghini (Gordon Lee) earned the Chip Liner Georgia Player of the Game award. After drawing a walk and scoring a run in the opener, Minghini walked and scored on Hemphill's base knock in the fifth inning of Game 2 and delivered an insurance run in the sixth with a one-out single.

Minghini also recorded a save in the nightcap, allowing two earned runs in three innings in relief of starter Maggie McBryar (Calhoun). Minghini walked a pair of batters, but struck out eight, including the punching out the side in order in the seventh to close it out.

Minghini's future roommate at Georgia Tech, Ella Edgmon (Sequatchie County) collected the Clifford Kirk Tennessee Player of the Game award. In addition to a couple of run-saving catches in the outfield, Edgmon had three hits on the night. Two of them were Game 1 doubles and she added a pair of runs scored in the opener.

Bailey Christol (Heritage) had a 4 for 6 night, tying the Classic record for most hits. Amber Gainer (Ringgold) belted a three-run homer in Game 1, while Riley Nayadley (Ringgold) also had a record-tying four hits, including three in the nightcap to go with two runs scored.

Several other Catoosa and Walker County players had solid performances.

Jade Gainer (Ringgold) doubled and scored in Game 1, while picking up a walk and scoring a second run in Game 2. Marianne Beliveau (Ridgeland) added a Game 1 double and crossed the plate twice in the opener, while Addison Sturdivant went 1 for 3 in Game 1 with a run scored, an RBI and two walks.

Haley Stahl (LFO) started Game 1 in the circle and pitched four innings, allowing three earned runs with two strikeouts. She also went 2 for 2 at the plate and drew a walk in Game 2, collecting one RBI. Rachel Gibson (Heritage) pitched the final three innings of the opener, giving up just one earned run with four strikeouts.

The 23rd annual Classic pitted recent graduates from southeast Tennessee against their counterparts from northwest Georgia. The only other tie in series history came in Game 2 of the 2017 doubleheader as the two teams agreed to call things off after eight innings and the score tied, 9-9.

Tennessee still leads the all-time series, 34-10-2. Tuesday's games marked a return for the Classic, which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns in 2020.

Read more on the Classic in the June 23rd edition of the Catoosa County News and Walker County Messenger.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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