GRAY — After a dozen seasons coaching the Daniel Boone softball team, Rick Wagner will walk away with a half-dozen consecutive District 1-AAA tournament titles.
McKenzie Ferguson struck out 10, the Lady Trailblazers lineup hammered out 13 hits and Boone beat Volunteer 8-2 in Thursday's tournament finals in Gray.
"I don't want people to think I'm leaving because we're losing talent," said Wagner, who will step down after the 2014 season, his 12th at Boone.
"No. We're right where we've been for the last several years. Whoever gets it is going to come into a good situation," he said.
Ferguson (20-6) walked only three batters through the first five innings, tossing shutouts in the first, second fourth and fifth frames.
Volunteer (34-9-1) plated an unearned run in the third on Kellie Kirk's RBI groundout.
Ferguson's scariest inning was the sixth.
Clinging to a 4-2 lead, she dealt a leadoff walk to Kenzie Dixon, whiffed the next two batters, then loaded up the bags with an Alix Lawson single and a walk to Alex Williams.
After Wagner called a huddle in the circle, Ferguson walked Sydney Chambers to score Dixon. After than, she struck out Olivia Houseright looking to extricate herself from the jam.
The Lady Trailblazers exploded for four more runs on five hits in the bottom of the inning to minimize the prospect of any further suspense.
"My team always plays with a lot of heart and they're always there to back me up, no matter what," said Ferguson.
Jacklyn Jenkins paced the Boone batters, going 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Haley Wagner went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and turned one of the game's most impressive defensive plays from third.
Wagner, who'll attend Samford on a college golf scholarship next fall, had considered passing on her senior softball season in order to focus on the links.
Thursday, she was certain she was doing the right thing.
"I'm very happy that I decided to play my senior year," Wagner said. "I know I would have regretted it had I missed out on it."
Meredith Good went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a sacrifice bunt and Abbey Harrison went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Kaylin Conkin had two hits, Allie Littleton had a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly. Jacklyn Painter also laid down a sacrifice bunt for the Lady 'Blazers.
Dixon (9-6) drew the start for the Big 7 Conference regular season champion Lady Falcons, who would have had to play Boone a second time Thursday if Volunteer turned the tables.
Dixon was the Lady Falcons' most successful offensive player, getting on base in all four plate appearances with a single and four walks.
Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler said ace Morgan Marshall would have pitched in the event of a second game. She got hit by a pitch in the elbow of her glove arm while batting in Monday's game with Boone. She'd pitched three consecutive times prior to Thursday.
"I thought holding her out of this one was a good move on (Strickler's) part," Wagner said.
"I thought what he did tonight was the best thing for Volunteer. If they'd won, they'd have had her in the back pocket," he said.
The Lady Falcons will travel to play South Doyle in Monday's Region 1-AAA first round game. Boone will host at home.
"You can't take anything away from the season we had. It just wasn't meant to be," said Strickler. "But our kids keep fighting. That's the thing. We get to go one more day. We've been in that situation before and we've come through it."comments powered by Disqus