By COLLIN BROOKS
A sliding catch by Daniel Boone’s Rachel Vittetoe seemed to symbolize the entire Big 7 championship season for the Lady Blazers as they made the toughest things look the easiest on their way to the crown. The Lady Blazers won 11-straight conference games after dropping their first contest to Volunteer to start the season and they sealed that championship with a 3-2 win over Dobyns-Bennett on Monday night.
“That was a great play to end it,” Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “To start out the conference 0-1 and to start out 2-9 and to end like we did, our kids really had a good team atmosphere and great leadership. But the play that she made is one of the greatest catches that I have seen made in high school sports, across the board, and she is just a great person.”
After the catch, Vittetoe was swarmed by her teammates, with one of them being junior Kristen Hall.
“I think the excitement that our team felt after that catch, really can’t be put into words,” Hall said. “It has been a goal that we set as a team since last year to be where we are now. But we know that this is only the first step in what is going to be a long road ahead.”
That road won’t start out in the first round for the Lady Blazers, as they are the only team to get a first round by in the Big 7 tournament schedule that was released on Tuesday. They will play the winner of David Crockett and Sullivan Central, who will play at 8 p.m. on May 6.
The tournament will be played at David Crockett this season, which is exciting for the Lady Pioneers.
“I think it gives us a little bit of an advantage, having our fans and the field we are used to playing on,” David Crockett coach Carla Weems said. “But we have been beat on our field this year, so I don’t know that we have that much of an advantage, but I know the girls are excited to host it and the fact that we get to play here.”
One of the teams that beat them was Daniel Boone. Jenkins said that his girls are playing some of their best ball of the season, but he cautioned the girls to remain level headed.
“To be the number one seed and get right into the double-elimination, that was one of our goals going into the season,” he said. “But at the same time, it is tournament time and everyone is at 0-0 and you have to come out and be playing your best ball. I feel like we are playing our best ball at this time.”
Daniel Boone will be off until they take the field on Monday, May 9, at 4 p.m.
David Crockett has been off since a walk-off loss 1-0 to Science Hill on Thursday, April 28. Since then, they have been polishing their skills in preparation for the tournament.
“It was a good game to end the season on, I was proud of our defense, but we just didn’t hit the ball,” Weems said. “We have been working on that the couple of times that we have been to practice and we have been working on our defense. We always work on our hitting, it’s just sometimes you don’t hit it.”
And the Lady Pioneers will be in a do-or-die situation when they take the field against Sullivan Central, as the loser’s season will be over. That is something that Weems has been stressing to her girls through their practices.
“I try to let them know that, because Friday night could be their last ever night at playing at Crockett,” Weems said. “But you have to have your mind set and ready to play the game, because anybody can beat anybody.”
But in order to win the conference tournament, Jenkins says that it will come down to the simple things.
“You have to be able to hit with runners on in this league,” Jenkins said. “That is going to be the name of the game, that and making the routine plays. We are excited to be where we are at and we just hope that we can keep it there.”