By TREY WILLIAMS
Just when it appeared David Crockett’s softball team was sewing up the Big Seven Conference title and the District 1-AAA tournament’s No. 1 seed, things unraveled against rival Daniel Boone last Tuesday in Gray.
The Trailblazers rallied from a late 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory to earn the district tournament’s top seed and a share of the regular season title with co-champion Crockett.
The Pioneers were their own worst enemy. Two errors and a walk led to three unearned runs for Boone in the bottom of the sixth. That was enough for Megan Ackerman, who pitched a complete game for the win.
“It feels great,” Ackerman said. “We were hyped about it, pumped up all day and we knew we just had to come out here and play our best. … I was ready to come out and play, but I mean once they got ahead, obviously, I got a little nervous. But the team came back and we battled.”
Savannah Russell’s sacrifice fly scored Dannah Persinger with what proved to be the winning run. Russell missed a month with an ankle injury and had been back in the lineup less than a week.
“Savannah struggled a little bit with her injury,,” Ackerman said. “It’s hard to sit on the sidelines and watch your team play. But I’m glad she’s back; everybody is. I mean that’s all you can ask right there is for somebody to come off an injury, come up to bat and get a great hit that helps you win the game, or does win the game.”
Ackerman reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Ensuing batter Ashley Starnes walked and Kayla Hubbard’s bloop single over the shortstop produced Boone’s first run.
The following hitter, Greyson Stevens, reached on an error after bunting. The throwing error enabled Starnes to score the tying run and courtesy runner Persinger advanced from first base to third on the play. Weems then got a ground-out that kept Persinger at third, but Russell lifted a fly-ball fairly deep to left field which allowed Persinger to tag and score.
Turnabout was fair play for Boone, which squandered a 5-0 lead in a 7-5 loss at Crockett in the teams’ first meeting this season.
“I was proud of the effort of our girls to come back against them – to play a quality team,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “Our league is a tough league and to come out on top and be the one seed – that was our goal going in and to reach that the last game of the year, you know, I’m just really happy for our girls. They really showed the toughness that we wanted them to show.”
Maddie McKee’s one-out, two-run single gave Crockett a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth. The Pioneers had visions of a bigger frame, but Sydney Fox wasn’t awarded a walk due to confusion over the count and flew out one pitch after what should’ve been a walk.
Crockett coach Carla Weems was also less than ecstatic about the call on a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth – not that she credited the loss to umpiring.
“We just had errors in that sixth inning,” Weems said. “We had a routine ground ball … and we had a routine bunt. … You can’t do that against good teams.”
Crockett pitcher Kara Weems walked five, hit a batter and struck out four.
“Kara’s beating herself up, but she pitched a great game,” Carla Weems said. “I can’t take nothing away from her. Yeah, she walked a few, but there were a few calls in there that were close. We weren’t getting the corners again today, you know, and that’s frustrating for a pitcher. But she did a good job.”
The defensive highlights for Boone included shortstop Jaycie Jenkins’ diving catch on a pop-up in the first inning and Jenkins and McKenna Dance turning the 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the sixth.
Crockett (30-10) and Boone (31-14) were set to meet again Tuesday in the winner’s bracket final of the district tournament at Metro Kiwanis Park in Johnson City. (This game was after press time for the Herald & Tribune.)
Crockett beat Volunteer 5-0 in the first round and defeated Dobyns-Bennett 4-0 in its second game. Weems struck out 11 while two-hitting the Indians.
Boone, which received a bye, edged Cherokee, 1-0, on Monday. Ackerman struck out nine while pitching a two-hitter against the Chiefs. Freshman McKenna Dietz’s home run was the difference.