Mark Dowlen was disappointed — but far from discouraged — after the Heritage High School softball team was eliminated from the District 4AAA tournament with a 6-1 loss to Farragut on Tuesday.
“Give us a couple of years,” the Lady Mountaineer coach said.
It may not take that long.
The Lady Admirals, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, led 3-1 before pulling clear with a three-run sixth. That Heritage was that close, that late, speaks volumes for the days ahead for the Lady Mountaineers. That Heritage was one of the tournament’s final four teams — along with top seed William Blount and No. 3 Maryville — screams, ‘Look out!”
Along with 6-foot rookie Logan Frazier in the pitching circle and battery mate Mackenzie Sherman behind the plate, the Lady Mountaineers started five freshmen in the elimination game. Freshman third baseman Chelsea Boling is definitely a player to watch in coming years. In a game the Lady Mountaineers had to win, Heritage would see only one senior, second baseman Tracy Hardiman, take the field with the first nine.
The Lady Mountaineers finished the season at 18-23 with the loss, but the total is skewed somewhat by a schedule that saw Dowlen’s young team open the season by jumping into the deep end. Heritage made its debut at a top-flight tourney hosted by defending state champion Riverdale. The Lady Mountaineer returned home to begin the season in earnest at 1-6.
Dowlen carried 11 freshmen on the varsity roster this season. It’s takes a while, but a group this talented that’s won on every level is bound to catch up. In the late-charging Frazier, Blount County prep softball could easily be looking at the next big thing.
Gone too soon
Maryville’s baseball team was the only District 4AAA club to take a game off defending state champion Farragut this season.
The Rebels entered Tuesday’s district tournament elimination game with Bearden at Farragut with a school-record 27 wins to their credit.
A fast start by the Bulldogs put Maryville in a hole the Rebels couldn’t climb out of, Bearden ending the season for the winningest team in school history with a 9-4 win.