The bats are coming around.
The way Brittany Monday is pitching lately, though, theres really no hurry.
The precocious sophomore toyed with her second perfect game in as many weeks before finishing off Bearden, 3-0, in a two-hit gem on Tuesday at Sandy Springs Park.
Monday struck out 14, allowing only a pair of singles in the fifth, as Maryville advanced to District 4AAA showdown at Heritage on Monday with a victory far more comfortable than the score would indicate.
Speedy left fielder Camille Olvey led off the Lady Rebel first with a triple to right, scoring one batter later on Abbie Harpers fielders choice. Thats all Monday, whod struck out the side to start the game, would need.
The Lady Bulldogs were retired three up, three down through four, with Monday not allowing a ball off the infield. Meredith Niethammer singled and scored for the Lady Rebels (7-2, 5-2) in the Maryville third, the junior shortstop scampering home on a double steal.
Catcher Kim Whaley tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the Lady Rebel sixth, providing a three-run cushion that might as well have been 10.
"I think were getting more into it," Olvey said. "Everybodys starting to show up.
"We had a rough start to the season. Were progressing each game. Well be ready by (the) district (tournament)."
Next weeks clash at Heritage was originally scheduled for
today and will replace a scheduled contest with Seymour. The
extra few days to get ready comes at a welcome time, Maryville coach Ken Hawkins said.
The Lady Mountaineers, who reached the Class AAA state tournament a year ago, feature one of the districts best arms in senior Shelly Fagg. The Heritage ace, every bit the fireballer as Monday, will be a considerable step up from the speeds Maryville batters encountered against Bearden.
The Lady Bulldogs limited a potentially powerful Maryville lineup to four hits.
"I think a lot of it is were not seeing high caliber pitching every day," Hawkins said. "I have enough confidence in our pitching and defense to know were going to be in the game. I think our pitching is as good as anybodys."
Its getting an offense that includes seven juniors firing on all cylinders that will be key in April.
"Im not as concerned about our hitting right now as some
people are because were playing good defense," Hawkins
Maryville has committed only two errors on the season.
"We went all the way to the state tournament with pitching and defense (in 2002)," Hawkins said.
Monday is rapidly developing into the kind of pitcher that Maryville can follow all the way to Murfreesboro. Junior Holly Ridenour is another option in the pitching circle. Its finding a Lindsy Little, a Brooke Melton, among this seasons Lady Rebels with which Hawkins concerns himself most.
"Those two ignited our offense last year," he said. "This year, we dont have that yet."
Theyre getting close, though.
"Weve been working on it a lot in practice," Harper said, "finding the gaps."
Monday, with a solid defense behind her, looks as if shes more than capable of handling the rest.
District 4AAA softball standings
Team District Overall
Farragut 5-0 11-3
Maryville 5-2 7-2
Heritage 4-1 9-9
South-Doyle 4-3 4-4
Wm Blount 3-2 6-1
Bearden 2-3 2-6
Lenoir City 0-7 0-8
Sevier Co. 0-8 2-8
District 3AA softball standings
Team District Overall
Alcoa 5-3 7-5
Austin-East 0-3 0-3
Carter 3-2 3-3
Fulton 0-0 0-4
Gibbs 1-0 11-6
Seymour 1-0 8-3