Better get ‘em this year. These kids can play.
The William Blount High School softball team took the field on Monday with first baseman Brittany Slaughter and center fielder Hope Dunn the only seniors in a starting lineup of seven freshmen and/or sophomores.
Those freshmen and sophomores came through in a 6-5, 10-inning win over Jefferson County at William Blount, with sophomore pitcher Erica Tuck ripping a 2 RBI double back through the diamond to push the winning runs across.
Coupled with a 13-0 rout of Lenoir City on Tuesday, the Lady Governors (3-2, 2-0 District 4AAA) enter today’s clash with league front-runner Maryville (3-0, 3-0) a team building for the future but, at the same time, ready to win now.
First pitch this afternoon at William Blount is 5:30 p.m.
“They have a lot of talent, a lot of skill,” said William Blount coach Abbie Rector of her young Lady Governors. “I kept 18 girls this year. I’ve never kept that many. I’ve been very impressed.”
Sophomore shortstop and leadoff hitter Hannah Smith finished a crisp 3-for-5 with a run batted in on Monday as the Lady Governors twice rallied from two-run deficits to force extra innings.
“Hannah Smith is amazing,” Rector said. “She leads the team. (Tuesday) she was 4-for-4. She’s burning it up.”
Freshman third baseman Katelyn Steadmon has been blazing in the season’s early going as well, pacing the Lady Governors with the team’s best batting average. Catcher Cameron Campbell homered against Lenoir City on Tuesday. Tuck was already one of the area’s top arms a year ago.
What impressed Rector most on Monday was the way the Lady Governors methodically moved runners into scoring position before coming up with the clutch hit to bring them home.
“They can bunt this year,” Rector said, “and that makes me very happy.”
Matching up with the Lady Rebels could prove a big job for any district or region opponent this season, especially if Maryville coach Ken Hawkins perfects a potentially lethal pitching experiment.
Offense shouldn’t be a problem. In senior third baseman Bailie Roberts, a Division I basketball signee with Southeast Missouri State, the Lady Rebels have one of the best bats in the state. Freshman shortstop Bry Blanco is rapidly developing into a must-see player. Catcher Camille Olvey, a Milligan signee, is a true burner who hits from the left side of the plate.
Olvey tripled to lead off the Maryville first on Tuesday, with Blanco promptly singling her home, as the Lady Rebels jumped to a 4-1 lead over Farragut after an inning and never trailed in a 5-3 win.
It’s the Lady Rebel pitching tandem of staff ace Brittany Monday and rocket-armed junior Chancli Connatser that could prove something genuinely stunning, though.
Hawkins entered Tuesday intent on Monday and Connatser alternating innings against the Lady Admirals. Things didn’t go entirely to plan, with Monday battling stomach problems throughout, but the point was made.
“I knew if one got into trouble, I could switch it,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know how far we’ll go with this, but we needed to show them (the Lady Admirals) something different. I really wanted to rotate every inning. It just didn’t work out.”
Connatser and Monday, a Tennessee Wesleyan signee, both possess the speed, variety and pitch placement to carry a team to a league title. With one working one inning, yielding to the other the next, Maryville’s approach could prove nothing short of revolutionary.
“I like it,” Monday said. “I thought it was a great idea. They’ve seen me the last three or four times we’ve played.”
Connatser’s innings in the pitching circle on Tuesday only helped in keeping a big-hitting Farragut team guessing.
“We both throw pretty hard,” Connatser said. “We both have pitches that move.”
Tuesday, it was enough to move Maryville to its first win over Farragut at Sandy Springs since the 2003 season.