Top-seed Lady Govs ready for district tourney

William Blount junior Erica Tuck flips a pitch toward the plate earlier this season.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

William Blount junior Erica Tuck flips a pitch toward the plate earlier this season.

And now the postseason.

There’s little the William Blount High School softball team didn’t achieve during its run to the District 4AAA regular season championship this spring. Junior Erica Tuck became the league’s top ace. The Lady Governors (26-8) achieved the first regular-season sweep of arch-rival Maryville anyone can remember.

William Blount won the close ones. It won the blowouts. Beginning Monday at Farragut, none of that matters, first-year Lady Governor coach Amanda Estes Leatherwood said. The district tournament will care about one thing and one thing only: Who’s ready to play?

“I hope the girls keep rolling,” Leatherwood said. “They’re going to have to come out and play William Blount ball to win the tournament. I expect them to be focused and intense whether it’s the No. 2 team or No. 7.”

Shortstop Hannah Smith is delivering an All-State season for the Lady Governors, the William Blount junior setting the pace for the tournament’s top seed with a .526 batting average as of a week ago. Her .737 slugging percentage, .635 on-base clip and 56 total bases are also worthy numbers.

Three others — Tuck (.486), fellow junior Cameron Campbell (.400) and freshman Natalie Payne (.400) — aren’t far back. Juniors Chelsea Lyons and Ashley Kerr and sophomore Kinsley Vincent were each over .300 and moving up.

“Chelsea has really stepped up,” Leatherwood said. “She’s hitting .377, hit a couple of home runs and gotten us some clutch hits when we needed them.”

In the pitching circle, Tuck has fanned more than 100 batters this spring.

Leatherwood has directed the Lady Governors to a whirlwind season in her first job at the high school level, but the Maryville College graduate is hesitant to take much of the due credit.

“It was easy to come in and win when you have this much talent,” she said. “I’ve been blessed with a great situation.”

There’s little question, however, that it’s the competitive fire Leatherwood has brought the William Blount dugout that’s the reason for the Lady Governors impressive surge this season. It’s made William Blount the team to beat regionally this postseason. That in mind, there’s only one way to respond, Leatherwood said.

“We definitely have a target on our back,” she said. “Any day of the week anybody can come out and beat anybody.”

District 4AAA pairings

Wednesday’s Heritage/Catholic winner advanced to meet Knox West in a quarterfinal game on Thursday at 5 p.m. The winner gets the top-seeded Lady Governors on Monday at 6 p.m.

In the other half of the bracket, Wednesday’s Bearden/Lenoir City winner advanced to meet third-seeded Maryville on Thursday at 8 p.m., with the winner advancing to a quarterfinal matchup with host and second-seeded Farragut on Monday at 8.

The winner’s bracket final is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m., with the championship game scheduled for Wednesday at 8. A tie-breaker game, if necessary is scheduled for Thursday at 6.

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