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FCS, MJ use strong arms to win region
May 19, 2007 12:00 am
It took Friendship Christian batters three trips to the plate to get to Monterey pitcher Taylor Adkins in Wednesday's Region 4-A final.
Monterey's hitters never could get to Friendship's Hailey Rutledge.
The District 8-A co-Most Valuable Player held the Lady Wildcats to two singles and struck out 16 as Friendship claimed the championship 4-0.
"We've had a hard time all year hitting slow pitching and after seeing her two or three innings, we finally got around to where we could hit it – thank goodness," said Friendship coach Erica Powell, whose 35-9 Lady Commanders will host Grace Baptist [a 4-0 loser to Whitwell] at 6 p.m. Friday in the sectional with the winner advancing to next week's State Tournament in Murfreesboro. "It's big because it's our four seniors' last home game. We've been counting down from 15. We have five games left to make it where we want to be.
"Whatever it takes every game."
What it took Wednesday, in addition to Rutledge's rocket arm, was Camille Cross' RBI single to left field in the third [Friendship's first of four hits] to score Shelby McDonald, who reached on an error.
The Lady Commanders collected their other hits in the fifth to score three times. Brooke Klinefelter walked and was forced out by Cross, who scored on Rutledge's two-out triple to deep center field. Jessi Couch, the other district co-MVP, lined a single to center to score Rutledge and, after stealing second, came around on Lindsay Farmer's double down the left-field line.
Monterey will take a 21-10 mark to Whitwell on Friday.
Lady Bears ride Roark's no-hitter to Region 5-AAA championship
MT. JULIET — If it's hard to beat a good team three times in one season, what about a fourth time, or a fifth?
When Kenzie Roark is in the pitcher's circle, it's enough to tilt the odds in Mt. Juliet's favor.
The Lady Bear senior was a seventh-inning walk away from a perfect game Wednesday as Mt. Juliet shut out the Lady Buccaneers 2-0 at MJ League Park to take the Region 5-AAA championship. It was MJ's fifth win in six tries this year against Beech, which has acquired three state championship banners during the last decade.
"Beech is very talented," Mt. Juliet coach Kacey Pedigo said. "They are well coached, they are disciplined. They match up with us well and for us to come out today and for what was accomplished out here on the field was nothing short of amazing."
Holly Herman's leadoff walk represented Beech's only base runner as Roark racked up 12 strikeouts to improve to 24-5 for the season.
"Kenzie's very talented, we're very fortunate to have Kenzie," said Pedigo, whose Lady Bears will bring a 42-9 mark into Friday's 4 p.m. home sectional against Ravenwood [an 8-3 loser at Brentwood] with the winner qualifying for next week's State Tournament in Murfreesboro. "Kenzie is just one of us. I'm fortunate to have a great group of girls that are talented and are willing to work hard."
Roark also deflected credit to her teammates.
"Everybody working together," Roark said. "It's not been my success. It's been all of our success. If it wasn't for my defense, I wouldn't be in the innings and if it wasn't for my offense, I wouldn't have points on the board. So I give all the glory to them."
Beech, which fell to 1-5 against Mt. Juliet this season, will bring a 39-15 record to Brentwood on Friday.
"You get tired of playing each other after a while," Beech coach David Woods said. "They're a great team. Obviously, Kenzie is one of the top pitchers in the state. She just dominated today. What else can you say? We had one walk, a few people put it in play. Other than that, she just dominated from the get-go. She was just on. You got to give her all the credit."
Roark said she put in some extra time in the bullpen during pregame warmups.
"I warmed up for a little bit longer," the Virginia Tech-signee said. "I knew they would come in hungry because this is our sixth meeting and we've had close games everytime, so I warmed up a little extra today and got all my stuff working where I felt comfortable and it was going good for me."
Mt. Juliet scored both runs in the third inning. Bijan Stegall reached on an infield single to shortstop and moved up on Megan Matthews' sacrifice bunt. Caroline Mason hit an RBI single up the middle ["With Bijan's speed, there was no way I was going to hold her up at third," Pedigo said] and scored on Hannah Irwin's fielder's choice.
"We spend a lot of time working on our mental toughness and I'm very proud of these girls because they don't let extraneous factors control them," Pedigo said. "They understand what it means to control what we can control and they do just that."
Mt. Juliet was one game from winning the state last year before losing twice to Soddy-Daisy. The Lady Bears want to get back.
"We're so hungry for it," Roark said. "We fell short a little last year of our goal. So we're anxious to get back there and see what we can accomplish."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.