Lady Rebels stay alive at state
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MURFREESBORO — Maryville stayed alive for one more day.
The Lady Rebels broke their scoreless streak in the ’Boro at 12 Wednesday and piled on from there to eliminate Collierville, 6-1, in the first elimination game of the Class AAA softball tournament in the BlueCross Spring Fling.
Junior Taylor Hodge sent a rocket up the left foul line to score Hannah Rines with two outs in the third to take the lid off of the Maryville attack, give the Lady Rebels a 1-0 lead and send the lucky star hanging over Collierville pitcher Bayleigh Wisher into descendents.
“Last night it seemed like we couldn’t get the job done when we needed,” Hodge told The Daily Times. “I just wanted to make sure the team realized we were still in this tournament. Even if we had a loss, we’re not going home yet. Once we got the first run I think we realized we had a chance to beat this team and go on.”
Maryville (35-13) managed one hit in the early going against Wisher (L) but Haley Hilliard turned the corner on the Lady Dragon sophomore. Hilliard fouled off a series of pitches in the third — 13 in total after twice fouling into the ticket tent outside left and sending her coach scrambling — before drawing a walk and setting Hodge with the two-on and two out situation.
“If you notice I stand as far back as the umpire will let me get when she’s up to bat. She sent one over and I was about to try and catch it but then I thought that it might just break my hand so I ducked out of the way, You don’t want to put the pressure on any player but if she’s hitting the ball we’re hitting the ball. She’s that spark plug. When she’s putting the bat on the ball even just with foul balls it tends to get everyone going.” Maryville coach David Allen said. “That hit was big, I’d been thinking how many innings it had been since we scored. We still left a lot of runners on but that’s just a testament to Collierville doing what they needed to do.”
Mikale Clended drew a walk to load the bases and Raven Boyd sent a grounder that died in the soft dirt for an infield RBI as Hilliard scored what proved the winning run for a 2-0 lead.
After keeping Collierville scoreless despite a fourth-inning opening double, the Lady Rebels tacked on two more the following frame. Kati Lann lead off with a three-base double after a fielding error. Wisher struck out two to try and escape the jam but Lindsey Watson drew a walk to put runners on the corners for Hilliard, who fouled away pitches into her fourth double-digit pitch count before stroking a two-run double into the gap.
The Lady Dragons pushed one run across on three hits in the fifth but Maddie Ogle (W) picked up her ninth strikeout with runners on second and third to retire the side. The junior scattered six hits without issuing a walk over six innings of work.
Maryville answered with two more two-out runs as Lann picked up a ribbie single with a bloop to shallow right and Sara Beth Reeves put an RBI triple into center. Clendenen shifted into the circle in relief of Ogle in the seventh and walked one before settling into the defense against the Lady Dragons, who were eliminated after dropping their Tuesday opener to Clarksville, 7-1.
“Maddie pitched 10 last night, six this morning and we could be playing multiple games (today) I didn’t want have Mikale to come in without having thrown any down here yet,” Allen said. “She’s pitched quite a few games for us this year but I wanted her to get her nerves calmed down. She was a little jittery with that first batter but got her nerves calmed down and she’s ready. You never know what’s going to happen or how many we’re still going to play.”
Maryville won the first elimination contest during its last state visit in 2011 before dropping the second elimination contest. In 2009 the Lady Rebels battled through to finish third and in 2002 went through the winners bracket to the finals before dropping both games to the loser’s bracket finalist.
“Collierville is a good ball team or they wouldn’t be here. We took advantage of some opportunties and just found a way that’s all that matters at this point,” Allen said. “I talked to the girls last night and pointed out that Daniel Boone was in this position last year, where they lost their first game and rattled off five wins to force the If game in the finals. We’d need six wins to do it before this, now we need five.”
The Lady Rebels got the point Wednesday and even if they hadn’t the girls have also realized there is another incentive to keep winning and extending their ’Boro stay as long as possible.
“I hope we’re here until Friday,” Hodge said. “We don’t want to go back to school yet, when we get back we have to take finals.”
Maryville will now play either Munford or Dickson County at 10 a.m. CDT this morning with that winner advancing to the 4 p.m. CDT loser’s bracket semifinal.