Cookeville’s Tennessee Mojo play today for USA Softball title

The Tennessee Mojo 2021 team didn’t have to travel far for its USA Softball national tournament this year. And now the team isn’t far from winning it.

The Cookeville-based Mojo won all seven of their games so far at Warner Park and the Summit of Softball Complex this past week. They need one more to be crowned 14-under national champions.

The Mojo defeated Finesse Fastpitch from Michigan 9-1 in six innings in Saturday’s winners-bracket final at Frost Stadium. They’ve secured their spot in today’s championship game at Frost, scheduled for 10 a.m.

“We’re excited,” Mojo coach Brooks Cherry said after Saturday afternoon’s win over the Finesse. “Our pitchers are rested. We’re going to come out tomorrow and play it inning by inning.”

The Finesse have a spot in this morning’s losers-bracket final slated to start at 8. They’ll play Florida’s Sante Fe Inferno ’02, who won 8-0 over the Birmingham Vipers ’02 in Saturday’s last game.

The Mojo scored three runs each in the third and fourth innings in the winners-bracket final. Leadoff batter Sadie Saul’s double started the first rally, which was capped by Emma Minghini’s sacrifice fly. Saul then had a two-RBI double to highlight the fourth-inning rally.

“The second time through the order we started getting our timing down,” Cherry said.

Cayden Baker added a run-scoring groundout in the fifth before Jordan Key’s two-run double in the sixth halted the game by the rule of having an eight-run lead after five innings. Key ended up 2-for-3 and also scored a run.

Winning pitcher Claire Woods gave up six hits, including Karlie Moore’s leadoff home run in the fifth. The right-hander did not have a strikeout, but she also did not allow a walk.

“She got ahead of batters and really pounded the strike zone,” Cherry said. “She used her off-speed pitches to keep them off balance, and she trusted her defense and got a lot of ground-ball and fly-ball outs. She hit her spots. That’s the type pitcher she is. She spun it well.”

Jade Howard went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the victory. Aubrey Barnhart was 3-for-4 and scored twice. Cassidy Brendtke was 2-for-3.

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