By TREY WILLIAMS
The Daniel Boone softball team intends to go deep in the state tournament.
The powerful Trailblazers (34-11), who open against Summit (23-7) on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern), have hit 60 home runs en route to the program’s first state tournament berth since the state runner-up team in 2012. And that team – coached by coach Jeremy Jenkins’ predecessor, Rick Wagner – set a program record for home runs with 50, including seven in the state tournament.
Maci Masters, who was walked three times in an 11-3 sectional win against Powell on Friday, leads the Trailblazers with 19 home runs. Natalie Sheffey led the 2012 team with 19 home runs.
Freshman Kyleigh Bacon (12) and Emma Robinette (10) are also in double digits for this season’s team, and Camryn Sarvis has six.
In a 10-8 regional championship win last week at Tennessee High, Sarvis and Savannah Jessee hit back-to-back home runs after Boone had begun the inning in an 8-8 tie. The Trailblazers avenged a district tournament loss to the Vikings despite spotting them seven runs in the first inning.
“Tennessee High definitely surprised us,” Sarvis said. “Going down seven runs in the first inning could have easily ended our chance to win region but our pitcher Maggie (Hillman) finished the inning and didn’t let it get in her head. She came back out, made adjustments and we did our jobs behind her.
“The end of the game was filled with lots of emotions for me personally. My team made this incredible comeback then I bobbled a ball in the sixth allowing them to score the tying run, and then was the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh. I knew I had to go up there with a plan to redeem myself and help get my team back on top.”
Sarvis was patient in her final at-bat against sophomore Rylee Fields.
“She had been throwing outside all game and I was going to lay off of that pitch and wait on one, and when it came across I turned on it,” Sarvis said. “That will probably be one of my most memorable home runs. Then Savannah came up right after me and blasted another. It was an incredible win.”
The most satisfying win might’ve been a 21-0 win against arch rival David Crockett, which swept Boone during the league’s regular season en route to an undefeated Big Seven Conference record. Masters hit three home runs.
“Our bats are our biggest weapon,” Jessee said. “We have both power and speed and that’s what you need to score. I would honestly say that (batters) one through nine are weapons in many different ways, whether it be McKenna Dietz getting a bunt down when we need her to or Maci Masters hammering one to the football field.”
The ‘Blazers also have possess plenty of speed and athleticism with players such as outfielders Brylee Mesusan and McKenna Dietz.
“We’ve hit the long ball pretty good and Dannah Persinger hit one last game (against Powell),” Jeremy Jenkins said, “but we played some small ball and tried to use our speed with McKenna and Brylee at the top of the lineup. We’re hoping we can score runs with more than home runs, because we know the deeper you go that the pitching gets better. You’re not gonna see many games where you hit four or five home runs in a game. …
“Summit has a really good pitcher. They don’t give up many runs.”
Jenkins said the Big Seven Conference benefitted Boone.
“I think our conference was really good,” Jenkins said. “Crockett was the regular season winner, Tennessee High was the district winner and we won the region. So that tells you the balance and the competitiveness we’ve had in our league. We’re battle-tested.
“Tennessee High takes Farragut (to the wire) losing 2-0, and Farragut’s supposed to be probably the top team in the state tournament along with Siegel. That’s the two that you hear.”
The ‘Blazers would’ve had an excellent shot at a state title run last season, but it was canceled due to the pandemic.
“Two years ago that bunch won 44 games and got beat in the first round of the region to a Jeff County team that won the state,” Jenkins said. “And last year, to have a lot of those kids back and a lot of expectations, and it just kind of be taken away from you – it kind of left a bad taste in our mouth. McKenna is kind of the leader of this group and I think she even said that at the first of the year.
“We set a goal at the first of the year to make it to the state tournament. It’s a game of matchups and it’s also about getting hot at the right time. Our kids have really been playing well the latter part of the year.”
A number of the current players recall the state runner-up team in 2012.
“I have so many memories growing up of wanting to be just like the girls that went to state back in 2012,” Sarvis said. “I remember going to their games and ‘fan girling’ as if they were celebrities. Now we are getting to live out our dream and become the role models we once looked up too.
“I am so proud of our team and how much we have overcome and accomplished this season. From being quarantined twice and not getting to have our season last year we really worked hard to come back strong. This team has so many strong elements that I think has helped us to get us where we are now such as: speed, power, and most importantly grit.
“Not only are we a very talented team but we have a bond that no one can teach. We have grown up playing together since we were little and are more like sisters then just teammates. We want to win for each other and I think that’s what sets us apart.”
Jessee doesn’t see any chance of Boone entering Murfreesboro feeling satisfied.
“We aren’t just going to Murfreesboro for vacation,” Jessee said. “All the coaches, players (JV and Varsity) have worked too hard to stop fighting now. No matter the situation we are going to fight every pitch to bring a state championship back to our hometown.
“But win or lose, I’m going to give God the glory for opportunities this team has had. At the end of the day none of this is possible without him.”
Boone was quarantined during the season this year due to COVID-19.
“We’re very blessed to be able to get in this situation after the last year,” Jenkins said. “And this year we didn’t know how many games we’d actually get to play. We were quarantined at one time and had a little layoff. We’re very fortunate to be where we’re at. …
“There are eight teams left. We’re just gonna go down there and continue to do what we do and have fun and see what we can do.”