By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
MUFREESBORO — Once a Devilette, always a Devilette.
After playing for South Fulton softball teams that made the state tournament in each of her four high school seasons more than a decade ago, Grace (Moss) Wood had no trouble deciding what she and her young daughter would do on her day off Wednesday.
“I wanted to teach her about softball and my alma mater,” Wood said, gesturing toward 21⁄2 year-old Ensley, as they watched SF play University School of Johnson City in a Class 1A elimination game. “Those were some great times, and Coach (Curt) Lee and Coach (Chuck) Serratt were very influential in my life.”
Wood, a pharmacist in Lebanon and a 2002 SFHS graduate, was one of a handful of former South Fulton players to come to Murfreesboro to see the young upstart Devilettes play in the state tournament for a seventh time in the 15-year tenure of Lee.
Three-time all-state pitcher Haley McKinney and slugging third baseman Marina Barclay — both of whom graduated last year — also were in attendance on separate days to cheer on the Big Red.
Wood, whose husband E.J. is the head baseball coach at Watertown and the son of longtime South Fulton head football coach Gwin Wood, even showed her true colors by sport4, while freshmen Aalia Bivens and Cassidy Ruddle each had two hits and two RBIs for the Devilettes.
The locals simply couldn’t overcome their shoddy play in the field, though, something that happened with a higher degree of regularity than in most past years. Several sprinkled mental mistakes — including getting picked off third base in the fifth inning while trailing by five runs — compounded SF’s issues.
“What happened today with us defensively, happened to us a lot this year,” Lee agreed. “You can blame it on youth or whatever, but 38 games into a season, a lot of the things we did today just simply shouldn’t be happening — especially at this level.
“In a couple of real critical games — like in the regional semis and in the sectionals — we didn’t do that stuff. We were fundamentally sound and showed flashes of the club we were capable of being. We just never did it on a consistent basis all season.”
After a pair of errors led to an immediate 2-0 deficit, SF scored three in the bottom of the first.
The first three Devilette batters — Sturgeon, Reams and Bivens — had extra-base hits with Reams and Bivens smacking run-scoring triples. Ruddle’s ground ball that plated Bivens gave South Fulton a lead it would hold until the fifth.
Ruddle’s two-out single in the third scored Bivens after Reams had opened the inning with an infield single.
USJC had already taken a 5-4 lead before Wherry’s bases-clearing homer in the fifth on a two-run single by Haley Faulkner. Two infield errors kept the rally alive.
Wherry, who drove in six runs in all, added some insurance for the Lady Buccaneers with a second dinger — a two-run blast in the top of the seventh. Tanner Horton, the next batter, was hit in the head by Reams, prompting a warning to Lee by the home plate umpire.
The remainder of the game was played without incident, however.
Reams ended up striking out nine and walking three in absorbing the pitching loss.
The South Fulton skipper did acknowledge his team’s unforeseen deep postseason run before meeting with the players one final time.
The game was the last in a SFHS uniform for Reams, Sturgeon and Lexi Johnson.
Published in The Messenger 5.23.13