Just getting there no small feat for Lady Rebels

What if Brittany Monday hadn’t injured her shoulder?

What if Bry Blanco hadn’t suffered a broken hand in the district tournament?

What if the Maryville High School girls’ softball team hadn’t had that one bad inning against Beech?

There are plenty of what ifs to go around concerning the Lady Rebels third-place finish in the Class AAA state tournament last Friday. Maryville coach Ken Hawkins chooses instead to focus on what the Lady Rebels achieved.

“There are too many teams that never get there,” he said.

Maryville (25-9-1) didn’t fold when Monday, the team ace for three seasons, could no longer pitch after March 30, relegated to first base for the duration. She would return briefly in relief at state. Junior Chancli Connatser was anything but a step back, but losing Monday that early was big.

“They rallied around the fact we didn’t have her and rose to the occasion,” Hawkins said.

During a championship run in the district tournament, Maryville then lost freshman shortstop Blanco, who was leading the team with a plus-.500 batting average and six home runs. Again, the Lady Rebels regrouped and continued.

A region crown followed the district title, with a sectional win punching Maryville’s win to state. There, powered by the hitting of third baseman Bailie Roberts and Connatser’s strong right arm, the Lady Rebels reached last Thursday’s winner’s bracket final a confident team with wins over Houston, 1-0, and Siegel, 5-4.

Four errors in one fateful inning weighed heavily in a 7-2 loss to top-seed Beech on Thursday. Staging one last rally, the Lady Rebels took host Riverdale to the wire in an elimination game on Friday before absorbing a 2-1 loss. Just how strong Maryville’s title hopes had once been were reflected in Riverdale knocking Beech, 4-2, later the same day to force a tie-breaker for the championship on Saturday.

The Lady Warriors would storm by Beech on the last day, 9-1, for the crown.

“You can play the what if game forever,” Hawkins said. “We played a great team, and a great team (Riverdale) beat us, 2-1.”

Losing a senior class of Roberts, Monday, catcher Camille Olvey and second baseman Chasiti Smith will be no easy task next season. They leave Maryville having made their mark, Hawkins said.

“Our girls believed they belonged,” he said, “and finishing third at state doesn’t diminish that at all.”

Not at all.

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