By TREY WILLIAMS
Daniel Boone’s softball season concluded sooner than some might have anticipated, but the 44-win campaign won’t soon be forgotten.
Coach Jeremy Jenkins’ Trailblazers won the Big Seven Conference and the District 1-AAA tournament before losing 3-2 at home against Jefferson County in a regional opener that ended their season. Boone also won the Gibbs Invitational.
“We had a great year finishing 44-7,” Jenkins said. “Conference and district champs and regional semi qualifier. We lost a heartbreaker to Jeff County in the region. As a team and staff we were disappointed we could not go on, but that still does not take away the many successes we had as a team.”
Shortstop Jaycie Jenkins finished an exceptional junior season with a red-hot finish at the plate. She was selected district tournament Most Valuable Player after going 7-for-11 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in four games. She hit a sixth-inning grand slam in a 9-2 championship game win against Science Hill.
“Jaycie Jenkins was our top hitter in the tournament,” Jenkins said, “and carried us during that four-game stretch.”
Jenkins led the ‘Blazers in hitting (.507), slugging (.558), runs (54) and home runs (12), was second with 60 RBIs and third in stolen bases (22-for-24).
Boone was energized by athletic outfielders such as Briley Mesusan and McKenna Dietz. Mesusan, a speedy freshman, led the ‘Blazers in stolen bases (36-for-38) and tied Dietz for second with 46 runs. Dietz was also second on the team in steals (27-for-29).
Other starting position players who’ll return next year include Camryn Sarvis (five home runs), Dannah Persinger (.354 average), Emma Robinette, Greyson Stevens (three home runs) and MaKenna Dance.
“We had a great year and with 11 of the 14 coming back the future is bright for Lady ‘Blazer softball,” Jenkins said. “We look forward to next year and striving to get better.”
Boone was led on the mound by senior Megan Ackerman (25-3, 1.17 ERA) and junior Nickolette Ferguson (19-3, 1.67 ERA). Ackerman pitched a four-hitter in the season finale, as did winning pitcher Catelyn Riley of Jefferson County. She’s daughter of Jeff County football coach/former Tennessee offensive lineman Spencer Riley.
Ackerman was also a weapon at the plate this season. She led the Trailblazers with 62 RBIs and 20 doubles, and hit .448 with eight home runs. Ferguson was a key hitter as well (.382, five home runs, 32 RBIs).
Ackerman, Ferguson and Dietz joined Jenkins on the All-District 1-AAA team.
“We were led down the stretch by our strong pitching in senior Megan Ackerman and junior Nickolette Ferguson,” Jenkins said.
Ackerman is one of three seniors. The others are Bug Hubbard and McKenzie Gibson.
“The three graduating seniors, Megan Ackerman, Kayla Hubbard and McKenzie Gibson, will be missed not only by their teammates,” Jenkins said, “but as a whole by the entire Daniel Boone community.”
Ackerman will be teammates next year at Chattanooga State with Kasey Bennett (Science Hill) and Kylee Wolfe (Sullivan East).
“Our goal was to go out, compete, and work our hardest every game,” Ackerman said. “The success of this season was based on teamwork. I couldn’t be happier with how the team went out and competed this year.
“Every girl contributed and helped in a different way. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this team and to represent Daniel Boone High School.”