|Devilettes not overlooking 1st foe |
|Posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 4:35 pm |
If South Fulton is to write its own fairytale ending, it must first put Cinderella to bed.
South Fulton’s Kayla Davidson flips to Kacie Daugherty on a double play attempt.
The Devilettes — in the eight-team field for the first time since 2004 when the event was held in Southaven, Miss. — open play in the Class 1A state softball tournament in Murfreesboro at about 7 tonight against surprise entry University School of Johnson City.
The Buccaneers (17-17) are the only team in the single-A bracket without a winning record or as many as 20 victories coming into double-elimination play of the four-day event.
USJC last made the state tourney three years ago, but has never won a game at that level.
SF (32-10), meanwhile, which finished third 10 years ago in its best-ever showing of five previous trips to the state, will be looking to improve on a win total that is already a school record.
Devilette head coach Curt Lee, whose teams have gone 3-2 in tourney openers and have won at least two games in four of their five prior trips to the Big Dance, knows from experience that records of opposing teams can be deceiving once they advance to the Spring Fling’s Elite 8.
“When you get here, everybody is good and everybody has a chance,” insisted the SF skipper, whose clubs have averaged 23 wins a season in his 12 years. “Some teams play a tougher regular season schedule, just to get ready for tournament play.
“A lot of times, the records reflect that.”
The Bucs were actually a sub-.500 team after a district runnerup finish before winning three straight games, including a thrilling 1-0 triumph over Coalfield.
Freshman hurler Haley Faulkner (13-8), who saw mound time as an eighth-grader last season, twirled a three-hit shutout and made USJC’s only hit — a RBI single by Sarah Mast in the sixth — stand up in the sectionals.
SF, which has surrendered just four runs in six postseason games, will counter with the stellar pitching of sophomore Haley McKinney (20-5, 1.29 ERA) and a solid defense that has committed just three errors in tournament play.
Catcher Paxton Sisson (.398), first baseman Macy Maxwell (.382) and shortstop Kayla Davidson (.367, 4 HRs, 29 RBI) have been the team’s best hitters, with leadoff batter Kacie Daugherty (.347) the perfect table-setter.
The remainder of the Class 1A field consists of pre-tournament favorite and reigning champion Trinity Christian Academy and perennial powerhouse Forrest, which was the 2008 titleist.
TCA (43-1), which suffered its only loss of the season to Class 3A Lincoln County and has won more than 30 of its games via shutout, will be gunning for its fourth state title in the past five years.
University of Tennessee-bound Ellen Renfroe is looking to follow in her sister Ivy’s footsteps in leading the Lady Lions to another title before shining in her first Southeastern Conference season. Ivy Renfroe has gone 28-4 in her freshman campaign at UT, helping her team into next weekend’s Super Sectionals.
Chattanooga Grace Academy (28-6) is also back this season after making it this far a year ago, but has the unenviable task of playing TCA in Round 1.
Forrest (26-5) — making its fifth straight appearance in the tournament — finished runnerup to TCA in 2007 and last season. The Rockets face Friendship Christian School (29-8), which is making its sixth consecutive trip to the state tournament.
South Fulton has previous tournament experience against both FCS and Forrest, losing to Friendship Christian (3-0) in the 2002 tourney and dropping a 7-3 decision to Forrest to end its tournament stay in Chattanooga that year.
Unaka (30-11) ended Midway’s run of fourth straight state trips in the sectionals when power-hitting catcher Kat McInturff hit a three-run homer. McInturff has smacked five home runs and driven in 40 runs to-date this season
Jamie Andrews (14-8, 1.42 ERA) and Lacey Huskins (10-3, 0.98 ERA) give the Lady Rangers a solid 1-2 punch on the hill.
East Robertson (29-8) matches up against Unaka in Round 1 and is making its first trip to the state in three years.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.