By TREY WILLIAMS
David Crockett’s softball team must settle for a third-place finish in the Big Seven Conference after a hard-fought 1-0 loss Monday at Science Hill.
But the Pioneers (7-5, 22-13) have at least a puncher’s chance at defending their District 1-AAA tournament title, particularly if Riley Hope returns from a potential injury after a jarring collision with a block wall at Science Hill.
She left in an ambulance, but only after sitting up on her own and telling teammates and coaches she was okay.
The Pioneers are formidable primarily because of senior pitcher Kara Weems. She pitched a three-hitter in the hard-luck loss at Science Hill, and one of those was a blooper.
“Kara’s definitely one of the best in the league,” said Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins, whose Hilltoppers are assured no worse than a No. 2 seed for the district. “And she pitched a great game today – in, out, in, out, in, out, and we just couldn’t square it up.”
Weems, a Milligan College signee, was perhaps most effective against Hilltoppers cleanup batter Sejal Neas, who pitched a one-hit shutout. Neas, an impressive power hitter, popped out all three times while failing to get the ball out of the infield.
“Kara did a good job keeping her off the bases,” said Weems, who is excited to see the Pioneers try to defend their title. “I think it’s anybody’s ballgame. We played them down to the seventh inning. If we play them again, I think our chances are just as good. I’m not gonna give up on this team. As long as Kara’s throwing and feeling good and the girls are behind her, I’d put her up against any of ‘em.
“She was doing really good today. She puts a lot of pressure on herself and she’s upset with the loss. But I couldn’t have asked for her to do any more.”
David Crockett sophomore pitcher Cody Wheeley and the Pioneers baseball team piled up 14 hits in four innings en route to a 14-2 non-conference win against Sullivan South on Thursday at Warren Miller Park.
Wheeley allowed two hits and one unearned run against the Rebels while walking none and striking out six. Wheeley leads the Pioneers in home runs (four) and RBIs (26).
“We had some seniors step up mid-season,” Wheeley said. “They realized that we had a job to get done and it changed a lot. … Last year we struggled a little bit. It’s great to come out and do it for the community. It’s bigger than the nine guys that are on the field. We’ve got a whole community here to play for.”
Cade Larkins hit a three-run home run in the win against South and homered and drove in six runs in a 12-4 win against Sullivan East on Monday. It was Crockett’s eighth win in the past 11 games. The Pioneers also have won five straight Big Seven Conference games.
Freshman leadoff batter Garrett Leonard went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs against East after going 4-for-4 against South. The freshman raised his average to .311.
“We plugged him in when we played Dobyns-Bennett about halfway through the year,” Crockett first-year coach Spencer Street said. “And I’ll be honest, you kind of worry about guys getting mad about bringing up a freshman. But they embraced him. And we really kind of – attitude and effort wise we kind of turned the corner when he got up here.
“He’s a quiet kid. He’s not gonna say much, but I think the guys know he’s a competitor and they’ve embraced him. He’s done a great job. He’s been huge for us.”
Daniel Boone’s softball team fell to 40-6 on the season with a 7-5 loss at home to Jefferson County on Monday.
McKenna Dietz and Megan Ackerman were each 2-for-4 and Makenna Dance had an RBI double. Jaycie Jenkins went 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
The Patriots scored five in the seventh for the victory, but the setback could be a lose-win situation for the Trailblazers. Boone tallied nine hits off Jefferson County’s top pitcher, football coach Spencer Riley’s daughter Catelyn. It should help build confidence should the teams meet again in the posteason.
Ackerman is 23-2 for Boone. Nickolette Ferguson is 17-3.
Jenkins leads Boone with eight home runs and a .488 batting average. Ackerman has a team-high 57 RBIs and is second in hitting (.445). Freshman Brylee Mesusan had 33 stolen bases. Dietz (27) and Jenkins (22) are also threats on the basepaths.
Daniel Boone’s Cade Elliott delivered four hits and four RBIs in the Trailblazers’ 9-1 defeat of University High on Monday. Colby Backus tallied three hits and Brody Goodman added two hits and a walk.
Hunter Adams struck out seven in four innings en route to victory. Goodman worked the final two frames.