KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett’s softball squad didn’t get everything it wanted Wednesday in what proved to be the final day of District 1-AAA tournament play at Indian Highland Park.
But what the Lady Indians got, they are not sending back.
A three-RBI double in the sixth inning by Kourtney Bailiff lifted the Lady Indians to a 4-1 victory over Science Hill in the final round of elimination play.
In the championship game, Daniel Boone got stellar defensive play from tournament MVP Jessee Wheelock and clutch hitting down in the order from Kellie Waycaster to secure the tournament title with a 2-1 win over the Tribe.
“The second game, when you know you’re going to get to go play in the regionals, you’re not so worried. The first game, now, that was stressful,” said D-B coach Andy Hubbard, whose team will travel to face the District 2-AAA champion Monday. “I’m pretty pleased. I’m happy.”
Boone coach Rick Wagner said the Lady Trailblazers’ second consecutive district tournament crown wasn’t as inevitable as some might have expected.
“I was afraid that if we were to get beat, people would’ve said it was an upset. If you say that, it means you got beat by a team which is not up to your caliber, which is not the case, ” said Wagner, whose 37-7 squad will play the District 2-AAA runner-up Monday at home.
The Lady Indians (35-15) got a pair of compelling pitching performances from Makenzie Lilley.
Lilley (24-9) scattered five hits, striking out three and walking one in the win over the Lady Hilltoppers. In the championship game, she raised the prospect of a rematch today by holding the Lady ’Blazers to only one stranded single over the first four frames.
“The way Makenzie throws, we’re very fortunate to win this ballgame,” Wagner said. “It’s not like it was us. It was more like they kept us off-balance. They did a great job with our hitters.”
Lilley broke the scoreless tie in the third inning with her RBI double, plating Lauryn Denton. Waycaster, batting eighth, got the crucial lead-off hits in the fifth and seventh innings.
Her fifth-inning single was moved over by a Katie Clark sacrifice bunt, who later scored on Natalie Sheffey’s double. With the game tied 1-1, Waycaster led off the bottom of the seventh with a double that simplified manufacturing the winning run.
“She gave me my sweet spot. She gave me inside-high and I took it opposite — and got it done,” said the sophomore first baseman and erstwhile pitcher.
After another Clark sacrifice, Wheelock lifted a fly ball to right to score pinch runner Jenna Carmody and seal the deal. The sophomore shortstop’s defensive antics included nipping a promising D-B rally in the bud with a self-turned double-play in the fifth inning.
Cora Baker (25-2) struck out four and scattered six D-B hits on her way to becoming Boone’s single-season winningest pitcher.
Bailiff’s base-clearing double in the first game was a career highlight
“I was thinking, this is my senior year. This could be my last game. Or we could keep going,” said the third baseman, who went 2-for-3. “I knew I had to hit it for us to win.”
The Hilltoppers (28-16) got their lone run in the fourth after Ashley Degroat, on with a double, scored on Madi Oertling’s single.
“We didn’t hit. There ain’t nothing else to it. We didn’t hit. And they got the one big hit,” said Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins. “We didn’t hit.”
Samantha Lilley and Emily Anderson got two hits apiece against Science Hill. Denton had a pair of singles against Boone.