Maryville utilizes its pitchers in a different way than most other schools.
For the most part, the Lady Rebels choose to deploy a committee consisting of Kasey Monday, Katie Thompson and Brooke Bentz instead of leaning on one for an entire game.
Bentz bucked that trend on Monday and gave her teammates an opportunity to rest their arms, tossing a complete game to lead Maryville to a 9-1 victory over Alcoa.
“She was feeling good and we wanted to stay with that,” Maryville assistant coach Buffy Arms told The Daily Times. “We had Katie ready, and I knew I could count on her if she needed to come in, but we were just going with Brooke because it was working.”
The freshman allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out eight. She allowed an infield hit to Alcoa centerfielder SieAnna Cameron to leadoff the first inning before retiring 10-straight hitters.
An Audrey Roach double with one out in the fourth marked the first hit the Lady Tornadoes (18-9-1) had leave the infield, and by then the Lady Rebels (16-6) had already grabbed a four-run advantage.
Italia Kyle started the fifth with a double, but Bentz followed with back-to-back strikeouts to quell Alcoa’s momentum. The Lady Tornadoes also loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but a strikeout and a pair of groundouts limited the damage to one run.
“She threw a fantastic ballgame,” Alcoa coach Sarah Bailey said. “She’s very talented and she definitely had us off balance, and we just didn’t make adjustments quick enough.”
Macy Powell, Gracie Midkiff and Kendal Pitts all hit home runs to back Bentz’s gem. Powell also added a two-run double to cap a three-RBI performance.
“Coming into the circle when you have a little cushion, that’s always super helpful,” Arms said. “I’m proud of the girls because they came out and played well even though Coach (Nick) Payne wasn’t here. That’s hard when things aren’t as they usually are, but they did a great job of adjusting and hitting out there.”
The same couldn’t be said for Alcoa, providing a callback to its loss to Kingston on April 10 — a defeat that will have it enter the District 4-AA Tournament as the No. 2 seed.
The Lady Tornadoes scored six first-inning runs off Keylon Reynolds but failed to figure her out after she settled in. They tallied three runs on four hits over the final six frames as the Lady Yellow Jackets surged ahead.
“That’s a coach’s dream, being able to wave a magic wand and get them to make adjustments, and if you could do that, you’d win every single ballgame,” Bailey said. “They’re kids, and they have to learn.
“That’s part of our growing process — figuring out how to mature on the field from the standpoint of at-bats and individual pitches.”
Monday provided another opportunity to learn during that process, and Alcoa hopes it can be a benefit as it enters the district tournament next week.
“This is great preparation because this is better than any practice we could have,” Bailey said. “It’s an opportunity to see good quality pitching, good defense and good hitting. It’s a good shot in the arm to have us wake up and get after it because we have some good teams we’re getting ready to face.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Rebels have won eight of their last 10 games heading into the District 4-AAA Tournament on Thursday.
“We started off rough at the beginning of the season, but I think we’ve made really good strides,” Arms said. “It’s always great to be playing good come district tournament time and we’re hoping it can continue.”