Rally Rebels run out of magic
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MURFREESBORO — With its back against the wall for the third time in three games, facing extra innings for the second time in three days and a trip to the state semifinals on the line, Maryville ran out of rallies.
Instead, it was Clarksville that found the last bit of magic at Starplex Park in Murfreesboro.
Down to its final strike and its last out, Clarksville got a two-run, walk-off double from Haley Bearden for a 6-5 win in 11 innings Thursday in a dramatic, back-and-forth Class AAA elimination game.
“The further you go, the closer you get to your goal, the harder it is,” Maryville coach David Allen said, “the more it hurts.”
It brought an abrupt end to Maryville’s season at 36-14, including District 4-AAA and Region 2-AAA tournament championships and a four-game run in the state tournament, finishing fourth overall in the double-elimination format.
The Lady Rebels, like they’ve become known to do, went down swinging.
“These girls, I had a buddy that started calling us the ‘Rallying Rebels’ about a month ago,” Allen said. “You look with two outs, that’s when we get our runs. When our backs are against the walls, the girls fight and find a way.”
That was the case in the top of the seventh, with Maryville down to its final out.
Haley Hilliard blooped a double into right field to score Sarabeth Reeves from first after the pop up fell between the Clarksville second basemen and right fielder. Just like that it was 4-all and headed for extra innings.
“It wasn’t one of her blistering shots,” Allen said of Hilliard, Maryville’s power hitter. “She hit a little blooper over here between the outfield and the infield and we scored a run from first on it. These girls find a way to fight.”
Hilliard gave Maryville a 1-0 lead with a solo home run over the left field fence in the fourth. Mikale Clendenen cashed Hilliard in later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
But Clarksville responded with two of their own in the bottom of the fourth and built the lead to 4-3 with solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
With international rules in effect in the 11th, Clendenen laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Kati Lann to third and Kayla Tillie brought her home with an RBI single for a 5-4 lead.
Heather Norris walked and stole second after Tiana Gray used a sac bunt to start the Clarksville 11th.
Madison Ogle worked Bearden to a 2-2 count before Bearden drove the pitch back up the middle to score both runs and advance Clarksville to this morning’s semifinal round.
“We give ourselves a run there in the 11th inning,” Allen said, “I’m thinking we’re going to get this. Credit Clarksville, they come up with the big hit.
“The girl that was up (Bearden), we were saying don’t give her anything she can get. She reached out and got a ball that was outside and drove it to the outfield.
“You always want one more,” Allen added. “There’s only one team that walks off the field winning their last game. It’s not us this year.”
Allen said he didn’t know what to tell his team during an emotional post-game huddle.
“These girls play with emotion, they play with passion,” he said. “The thing is, they never give up.
“The seniors, I thanked them for four years for sharing their lives with us. It’s not just softball. If they fight in life like they do in the field, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish.”
Maryville 5, Munford 2
The Lady Rebels stayed alive despite themselves, eliminating Munford with a 5-2 win Thursday morning.
Kayla Tillie had a solo home run in the second inning, Lindsey Watson had a pair of RBI and a run scored and Madison Ogle went the distance in the circle, scattering six hits around seven Maryville errors to advance the Lady Rebels to the afternoon meeting with Clarksville.
Maryville broke it open in the fourth, scoring four runs on four hits and two Munford errors.
Raven Boyd singled, Kati Lann and Sarabeth Reeves reached on a pair of fielder’s choices — with Reeves’ driving in Boyd — and Hannah Rines singled in a run for the Lady Rebels to start the inning. Watson was credited with an inside-the-park home run to score two more in the inning and make it 5-0.