By TREY WILLIAMS
The David Crockett softball team’s historic season came to an end with a home loss to Morristown East in the Region 1-AAA semifinals Monday in Jonesborough.
The Pioneers were Big Seven Conference co-champions (with Daniel Boone), District 1-AAA champions and hosted a regional game for perhaps the first time since 1989. They finished the season with a 33-11 record, which is all but certain to be a program record for victories.
But they ultimately fell, 9-7, to the talented Hurricanes. Freshman Sarah King’s grand slam gave Morristown East (29-5) an 8-4 lead in the fifth and Crockett eventually faced a five-run deficit before battling back to make it interesting.
“Our girls all year long just fight, fight, fight till the very end,” Crockett coach Carla Weems said. “And even tonight in the last at-bat … Alyssa (Suits) hit a hard ground ball and Kara (Weems) hit a line-drive in the gap that the center fielder ran down. So I mean even until the bottom of the seventh they just kept fighting for me. That’s all I could ask.”
The Pioneers also rebounded from a 4-0 deficit to tie the score. Crockett’s four-run fourth was fueled by Suits’ RBI single, Weems’ two-run double and an RBI from Matty McKee that tied the score.
Kat Pfeifer was 2-for-2 with a walk in the Pioneers’ season finale. Seniors Reagan Miller and Lenzie Jenkins were each 2-for-4, as was Suits.
Miller and Jenkins, the respective shortstop and second baseman, are seniors. So is catcher-center fielder Sydney Fox, who led the team with a .455 batting average this season. Miller hit .444 and Jenkins batted .385.
“Sydney was over .450 for the season,” Weems said. “It was just remarkable the way she hit the ball this season. And Reagan was maybe a little bit below her, but not much. Both of ‘em had over 30 RBIs on the season. And Lenzie hit (around) .380. Top to bottom they played fantastic. Very few errors at shortstop or second or behind the plate. … Lenzie’s had a fantastic senior year.”
Miller and Fox have signed to play at Walters State.
“Sydney’s been my best friend for a really long time and we went down to Walters State together (on a visit),” Miller said. “And I guess we just wanted to keep playing together.”
Junior Kara Weems pitched a shutout as Crockett defeated Cherokee, 4-0, in the district tournament championship game. Weems was named MVP. The victory came a day after Cherokee had forced an extra game with a 3-2 victory.
Crockett defeated rival Daniel Boone, 14-6, in the winners’ bracket final of the district. Freshman Riley Hope had three hits and four RBIs in that one.
“I think my favorite moment of the season was probably beating Boone in the winners’ bracket final,” Miller said. “That was just – that was great. My senior year was probably the best year yet, because we were just so close as a team. And that’s never happened before, really.”
Coach Weems said the season didn’t get any better than winning a district title, especially after Cherokee had won the previous day to force an extra game.
“Any time you beat Boone it’s a good thing,” Carla Weems said. “But when we lost that first game against Cherokee and my girls just, like, took a breather in between those games (winner’s bracket final and championship) – that second game they came back and Kara shut ‘em down on the mound and the girls came out hitting. Winning the district championship is a big deal.”
Crockett had an exceptional freshman class this season and its ace on the mound, Weems, will be a senior in 2019. Freshman Mackenzie Baldwin doubled and drove in two runs in the regional loss.
“Our freshman class was crazy good this year,” Miller said. “I was so impressed with them.”
So was Coach Weems, who noted Crockett piling up 11 hits against talented Morristown East pitcher Emma Frost.
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t repeat,” Carla Weems said. “For us to get 11 hits off of Frost and come up two runs short, I was just very proud of my girls.”
Crockett went to the state tournament when Weems was a junior in 1988 and returned to the sectional her senior year in ’89.