HARDIN VALLEY – Hardin Valley Academy’s softball team saw a chance to reach the District 4-AAA Championship Game slip away Tuesday night. The good news was it wasn’t the Hawks’ only opportunity to move on.
“We’ll find out what this team’s made of,” HVA coach Whitney Hickam-Cruze said after watching her squad squander a lead and ultimately fall 3-2 to William Blount at HVA. “They’re on the hot seat now and they’ll have to come back and win if they want to move on.”
The Hawks (23-12) faced the Governors (32-9) again Wednesday night but results were unavailable at press time. The winner of Wednesday’s contest advanced to Thursday night’s title game.
Four teams were left Tuesday night and William Blount coach Amanda Leatherwood said that the two teams to emerge from the tournament field could make plenty of noise in the upcoming Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro later this month.
“We have some great teams in this district and I feel very thankful and fortunate to coach in District 4-AAA,” Leatherwood said. “Any of these four teams left could go and make a deep run at state.
“The unfortunate thing is that only two of us are going to get a shot at the chance to do that.”
Farragut and Maryville were the other two remaining teams and following Tuesday night’s action, the Admirals, Red Rebels, Hawks and Governors all had one loss and all were facing elimination the next time out.
For three innings, William Blount and Hardin Valley were embroiled in a scoreless tie. That all changed in the bottom of the fourth when Hawks pitcher Kaleigh Wynne doubled home Haley Cloud and later came home with Hardin Valley’s second run when Leslie Beecham reached on an error.
The Governors, however, would answer and even the game in the top of the fourth. And it was William Blount’s pitcher, Erin Hill, who started the frame with a leadoff triple.
She scored on double by catcher McKenzie Henry to make the score 2-1. Henry later came home with the tying run when sophomore Brooke McMahan singled.
Hickam-Cruze credited the Governors for coming back to pull even in the contest.
“William Blount is a good hitting team and they came back and scored two runs to tie it up,” Hickam-Cruze said.”You have to give them credit for that.”
The Governors plated the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth inning.
Freshman Heather Robinson reached with a leadoff single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Kailey Dunn. Robinson crossed the plate with the eventual winning run when Hill doubled.
Both Hill and Wynne were double threats in this contest. Both reached base multiple times and drove in runs.
Both were also dominant in the circle. Hill had 13 strikeouts while Wynne fanned 11 Governors in the contest.
“Erin is tough,” Hickam-Cruze said of William Blount’s left-handed ace.
Leatherwood also had high praise for her pitcher.
“Erin is known as a groundball pitcher,” Leatherwood said. “But tonight, she became a strikeout pitcher and hopefully, she can keep that up.”
Wynne was obviously frustrated after the loss but vowed to return to the circle with a vengeance.
“This is not over yet for us,” she said. “It’s not even close.
“I have to do a better job hitting my spots next time and I have to limit the base hits.”