HARDIN VALLEY — The Hardin Valley Academy softball team won its second consecutive District 4-AAA Tournament Championship Saturday afternoon.
The Hawks, which won the title last season as the fifth seed, prevailed in a 2-0 pitcher’s duel against top-seeded Maryville. HVA won this title as the fourth seed.
The Hawks stayed hot Monday night. HVA claimed a 2-1 victory over Powell at home in the Region 2-AAA Tournament. McCord’s two-run homer provided all the offense that HVA would need against Powell ace Allison Farr.
Wynne had seven strikeouts in the game.
“These kids have so much heart and when they set their minds on what they want, they go out and get it,” Hawks coach Whitney Hickam-Cruze said. “When they get a goal on their minds, they go out and achieve it.”
Hardin Valley’s journey in the district tournament wasn’t without a few road bumps. The Hawks (26-12-1) emerged from the winner’s bracket but lost to William Blount on Tuesday May 10. HVA faced the Governors again the following day and hung on to record an 8-7 victory and advanced to the championship game.
The title game was rescheduled for Saturday due to rain on Thursday, May 12. Maryville held its graduation ceremony Friday night and answered an early wake-up call on Saturday.
The Red Rebels (36-10-2) and Hawks battled through two scoreless innings with pitchers Caylan Arnold (Maryville) and Kaleigh Wynne (Hardin Valley) each posting dominant performances in the circle.
Arnold, who finished the contest with 12 strikeouts, retired the first six Hawks she faced and fanned four hitters over the first two frames. Wynne, meanwhile, surrendered a one-out single to Callahan Baker in the bottom of the first. She finished the game with 18 strikeouts.
She opened the game by fanning the side in each of the first three innings and that gave the Hawks the opportunity to take the lead in the top of the third.
Freshman Jasmine Goodman doubled after running the count full against Arnold. Emalee McCord, another freshman, also ran the count full before drawing a walk to put runners on first and second. Both runners advanced when Aubry McGuire successfully executed a sacrifice bunt. After Arnold struck out Haley Cloud, Wynne came to the plate and was intentionally walked to load the bases.
That set the stage for sophomore Mikaela Chavis. Chavis, a key player in HVA’s deep postseason run last year (that ended at the Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro) singled to drive in Goodman and McCord with what would turn out to be the only two runs of the contest.
“When Kaleigh got walked, it made us all mad and we all knew that we had to have her back,” Chavis said. “I think the pitch was a drop ball, but I’m not sure. But I knew that I had to get a hit.
“Any time Kaleigh gets walked, she gets mad because she wants to hit. I like the fact that I can get a hit and help out my teammates.”
Wynne noted that she thought that her intentional walk irritated Chavis.
“I think when I got walked, it made her mad,” Wynne said.
It was the fourth game between Maryville and the Hawks. Both teams recorded two wins with the Red Rebels sweeping the regular-season series and Hardin Valley nabbing two postseason wins.
“I’m glad it was Maryville [in the district championship game],” said Wynne, who struck out the side in the bottom of the third. “You always want to beat a team that wants to get revenge on you.
“We played solid defense and we got some clutch hits.”
Hardin Valley left the bases loaded in the fourth and came up empty despite getting a single from Leslie Beecham before Goodman and McGuire walked. Arnold averted damage when she caught Cloud swinging.
Maryville had its chances to win the district championship in the bottom of the fourth. The Red Rebels got a pair of one out hits when Anna Alloway singled and advanced to third on a double by Arnold. But Maryville was turned away when Wynne fanned Kallie Singleton and Brooke Parker to extinguish the threat and end the inning.
Red Rebels coach David Allen commended the work of his senior pitcher, who recently signed with the University of Tennessee.
“It was an emotional week for Caylan,” Allen said. “She pitched four games this week and three of those were elimination games then, she graduated and had to come back and pitch today.
“She pitched well but we just couldn’t get our bats going. We just couldn’t get enough hits.”
For Goodman, the district tournament ride was filled with excitement.
“It was tough but I feel like we had a lot of fun,” she said. “We wanted a championship.
“We started kind of slow but we really progressed as the softball season went on.”