|Another record season doesn’t move OC ahead |
|Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012 6:58 am |
| By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
For the third straight year, Obion Central set a new school record for most victories in a season in its softball program.
Unfortunately, the Lady Rebels couldn’t keep another streak from growing either.
Despite 32 wins this spring — eight more than last season’s high-water mark for the program — OC failed to advance out of district tournament play for a 15th straight year after losing to Westview 4-1 Wednesday in a 13AA elimination game at Dyersburg High School.
The Lady Rebels concluded an otherwise stellar season with a 32-13 overall record.
Fifth-year Central head coach Tommy Victory, who went over the 100-win mark during his tenure this season, cited the rugged nature of a district that includes perennial state-qualfier Covington, Westview and Dyersburg — along with the youthful nature of his roster that included just one senior — as reasons for OC’s continued frustration come postseason time.
“From top to bottom, 13AA is just the toughest district around with as many as nine good teams,” Victory said after Wednesday’s season-ending loss. “What’s unfair about it is that we have a 10-team district that we have to get out of just to get to the region, and there’s other parts of the state that have a four-team district. That’s just not quite right.
“We put a really young team on the field this year that played 45 games and won 32 of them. We’re still learning, and we might’ve peaked a little early, but we gained a great deal from going to other parts of the state and playing good people. It made us better, and I expect us to continue to improve into next season. We might not win 32 games again, but we’ll be back knocking on the door, trying to advance out of the district.”
Macy Allison, the Lady Rebels’ top hurler, will be the team’s lone graduation loss with every other position player returning with a year’s worth of experience gained vs. a variety of competition over the past two months.
Allison ended the season 18-10 after absorbing Wednesday’s pitching setback and accounted for 30 victories over the last two seasons.
“Obviously, we’ll miss her,” Victory said.
OC and Westview were locked in a scoreless battle until the seventh, when the Lady Chargers’ Alex Crosser belted a bases-loaded double into the left-centerfield gap to drive in three runs. Crosser then raced home on a wild pitch for an insurance tally for Martin, which had threatened regularly throughout the contest before its telling final at-bat.
Central had just two legitimate chances to score over the first six innings vs. Westview ace southpaw Meagan Prince and failed to convert the best of those opportunities in the bottom of the sixth when a one-out squeeze play with runners at second and third wasn’t executed, resulting in Payton Robertson being tagged out at the plate.
Robertson had reached on an error to start the inning, was sacrificed to second and moved to third on Alex Wilson’s base hit.
“We had an excellent bunter (Carly Whipple) up there, and I just felt like we had to take a chance,” Victory added.
The Lady Rebels did get on the board with two outs in the seventh when Magen Gargus smacked a RBI triple that scored pinch-runner Macey McKenzie.
“We’ve got what we’ve got, and we had to depend all year on hitting the ball and making good plays defensively,” the OC skipper concluded. “We didn’t strike out a lot (four times) against Prince today and we put the ball in play, but Westview didn’t make mistakes in the field when we did.
“We hit over .375 as a team for the season and had three kids hit over .400. That’s outstanding for as young as we were. We’ll be back here and take our chances again.”
Westview saw its season end later on Wednesday when four errors led to four unearned runs and a late rally fell short in a 5-4 loss to Covington.
Covington and Dyers-burg will play in the championship round of the tournament tonight, with the Lady Chargers needing two wins, but D’burg just one to claim the title.
Both will move on to regional play next week.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.