By TREY WILLIAMS
The David Crockett softball team clinched the Big Seven Conference title about as quickly as home runs leave the bats of sluggers Alyssa Suits and Ashlyn Dulaney.
The Pioneers clinched a share of the title with a 7-3 win against Science Hill at home on Tuesday, April 20, and claimed the league outright with an 8-4 triumph at Cherokee two days later.
Pitching and defense have been better than might’ve been anticipated at the beginning of the season, and as Crockett’s nine-run rally in the seventh inning of an 18-14 win against Daniel Boone suggests, neither generally has to be stellar.
“From top to bottom, I know this is the best hitting team I’ve ever had,” Crockett Coach Carla Weems said. “We’re hitting .403 as a team. Everybody’s really contributing. … The 2018 team (conference co-champs) hit .380-something and I think we had 25 home runs. Right now we’re at 39 home runs.”
Suits and Dulaney have each hit 10 home runs. Suits will get serious consideration for Big Seven Conference player of the year.
“When I see her coming up in the lineup I relax a little bit because I feel like there’s a hit there,” Weems said. “She’s batting up in the high .400s. She was over .500 (recently). She’s just been on fire.
“And she’s played everywhere in the field. I’ve had her at third, I’ve had her at first, I’ve had her at catcher, I’ve had her in center. She’s been wherever I need to put her. And she’s gonna come up big every ballgame with a stolen base or a crazy, wild play of hers diving somewhere.”
Crockett’s defense – and offense – got better with the return of shortstop Mackenzie Baldwin on April 19 in a win against Sullivan East. The senior Tennessee Wesleyan signee had been out since injuring a hamstring in the season opener against Volunteer.
“She seems like she’s back a hundred percent,” Weems said. “She’s pretty fast and I can’t tell if she’s slowed down, maybe just a hair. But she’s been diving for balls, legging out singles. I can’t really tell that she’s lost much, if any. … Having her back has made it a little bit sweeter.”
Baldwin’s return is like adding Joe DiMaggio to the ’27 Yankees.
“We’ve got Kennedy Broyles and Mack (Baldwin) and Avery Hope, which has four home runs,” Weems said. “They’re batting six, seven, eight in my lineup. … Ashlyn Dulaney’s hitting the ball well. She’s right at .500 or maybe a little bit over it. Kennedy’s hitting it well. We can hit it, one through nine.”
Matty McKee and Broyles have been solid on the mound.
“I’ve been very pleased,” Weems said. “I thought at the first of the year Matty might be able to go four or five innings, you know. I wasn’t sure. There’s several games where she’s pitched all seven and done a fantastic job. And most of the time, Kennedy is able to finish. At Boone, Matty was struggling and Kennedy came in to finish.”
Broyles offers an offspeed change of pace.
“Kennedy has a drop-curve that’s offspeed,” Weems said. “She has a changeup. And, of course, Matty has a knuckleball that most people have never seen before that’s very, very wicked. That’s one of her strongest pitches.”
The Pioneers will host Dobyns-Bennett for Senior Day on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. They’re scheduled to host Johnson County on Friday and visit Science Hill in the regular season finale on May 4.
A long postseason will be expected to follow. Weems said the Pioneers could hit their way all the way to Murfreesboro.
“I think anything’s possible with this team,” Weems said. “You don’t want to count them out because they don’t ever quit. They’re gonna fight ‘til the last minute. I think they have all the potential in the world to do that.”
Daniel Boone Baseball
Daniel Boone’s baseball team bounced back from a 2-1 loss to David Crockett on April 19 with a 4-2 victory last Tuesday in Gray.
Preston Miller got the complete-game victory on the mound, allowing one earned run. Miller allowed four hits, walked none and struck out four.
Gaven Jones hit a two-run home run with two outs during a three-run third that gave Boone a 3-1 lead. Previous hitter Brogan Jones had doubled in Hagan Edwards to tie the score.
Jackson Jenkins’ RBI single gave Boone a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
After losing 9-7 at Tennessee High on Monday, Boone entered the final day of the Big Seven Conference regular season in a three-way tie for second place with the Vikings and Dobyns-Bennett.
Ace Gaven Jones was scheduled to pitch against Tennessee High on April 27 in Gray. A win would clinch the No. 2 seed for Boone.
Brogan Jones was 3-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a steal in Boone’s loss at Tennessee High. He saved a one- or two-run single with two outs in the second when he dove to catch Wade Witcher’s hard-hit ground-ball and threw him out.
Tyler Barnett (2-for-3, two runs), Gaven Jones (2-for-4, two runs, two steals) and Bishop (2-for-4, RBI) were also productive with the bat.
Kaleb Worley pitched a no-hitter in a 6-0 defeat of Morristown East on Thursday. Worley had an excellent feel for his breaking ball while striking out nine and walking three.
David Crockett Baseball
David Crockett’s Hayden Osburn went 2-for-3 with a run in the loss at Boone last week. Tyler Hensley allowed three earned runs in six innings.
Cody Wheeley hit his eighth home run of the season in a 13-3 win against Morristown West on Friday. He finished 2-for-2 with a double, a home run and four RBIs. Mason Britton, who committed to Johnson University’s basketball program last week, tallied two of his five RBIs with a triple.
Garrett Leonard was 2-for-2 with three runs and an RBI.
On Monday in Rogersville, the Pioneers (5-6, 12-10) overcame a 7-2 sixth-inning deficit to defeat Cherokee, 11-8. Britton and Nate Lawson were each 3-for-3 with a double. Wheeley hit his ninth home run of the season and saved the victory on the mound for Jacob Ayers.