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Combo of sticks, speed, arms added up to ’82 FHS softball state champs
Final of a two-part series on groundbreaking team


There was a “dynamite” arm in right field, a future All-American in center, a human vacuum cleaner at shortstop, a third baseman who could stretch in all directions — and two pitchers who combined for just one loss on the season.

Those are many of the main character descriptions from Javonne Hall’s 1982 Farragut High School softball team (28-1 final record) that became the school’s first-ever team state champ in a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association-sanctioned sport.

In addition to talent, a dramatic two-out comeback in game one of Farragut’s best-of-three Class AAA state title series with Gallatin at Bellamy Field illustrates how the team overcame adversity under serious pressure.

THE PLAYERS

Center fielder Rhonda Snow, who coach Hall said went on to become an All-American at Southern Illinois, “could cover more mileage, she had more speed, she had the big gun as far as our big hitter,” Hall said, adding that Snow homered in each of Farragut’s last 13 games in 1982.

Snow’s three hits helped the Lady Ads rally to win game one vs. Gallatin, 9-6, in eight innings.

“Robin Palmer was phenomenal,” Hall said about her shortstop. “She was our main defensive player. She was just a natural ... she was great at placing the ball.” In addition to defense, Palmer combined for six hits in the two Gallatin games.

And Palmer kept hope alive in game one when FHS, trailing 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning, was down to its last out. A Palmer single, followed by left fielder Lisa Nix’s single and two walks, set the stage for Lori Woodford’s heroics.

Praised by Hall for her stretching ability as a third baseman, Woodford stretched out a two-RBI double that put FHS up 5-4.

On the mound, “Missy Beard was our championship pitcher, fast and accurate,” Hall said. “She was only a sophomore.” Beard finished the season with a 20-1 record, and was the winning pitcher in game one.

Beth Chaney, the No. 2 pitcher who also played second base when Beard pitched, closed out a perfect 8-0 season as the winning pitcher in the darkness-shortened 12-5 state title clinching win in game two.

As for that strong arm in right field, “Kristal (Holmes) was a little, bitty wiry girl ... she had a dynamite arm,” Hall said. “Kristal would get it on a line in right field and throw ’em out at third base.

“And she was the one that used to steal all the bases, she was so fast. We’d run-and-squeeze if we could get Kristal on third and Robin up.” Holmes also had six hits in in the two Gallatin games.

Against Gallatin, “we stopped ’em running on us with the big arms we had in the outfield,” Hall said. “... And our infield was really tight. It was an excellent defensive team.”

First baseman Lisa Smith and catchers DeeDee Butler and Sue Strandberg were also starters who made quality contributions.

CHANGING TIMES

Times had changed by the late 1980s, one reason Hall said as to why she give up coaching after the 1989 season (10 seasons). “This is the difference in kids (as of the late 80s) and kids then,” Hall said. “Now they have so many things to do, they don’t concentrate on one thing like they used to. ... They still wanted to win and they still had hustle, but they didn’t realize how hard you had to work to get there. We couldn’t practice as much ... they had other obligations.

“I never got a team that totally clicked together as well as that (1982) team,” Hall added. “When you start out with the cream of the crop you’ve got to make adjustments.”

The bottom line? “I feel I had met my goal,” Hall said.

STAYING IN TOUCH?

Despite the team’s success, Hall said there have been no 1982 team reunions and no plans for a 25th anniversary reunion in 2007.

As for contact with team members, “Missy Beard we see, she still lives in (Knoxville), she used to do our taxes for us, she’s an accountant now,” Hall said. “And I used to see Beth (Chaney) every summer because her parents don’t live far from us on Melton Hill Lake.

“I hear from various ones every once in a while, and they’ll kind of fill me in on what the others are doing.”

 

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