Both softball teams stroked double-digit hit totals Thursday afternoon, but in the end Polk County had twice as many runs as the host Bradley Central squad.
After falling in an early 4-1 hole, the Bearettes rallied to take a 6-4 edge, but the Lady Wildcats put eight runs on the Bob McKenzie Field scoreboard in their final three at bats.
“”We’re just winning games,” declared Polk County head coach Bill Triplett after the 12-6 victory. “It’s been different people on different nights coming through for us. Tonight we had a strong effort from 1 through 9.”
“We’ve had great pitching from both our pitchers (Hannah Triplett, Briana Muller) all year and even though she gave up some hits tonight, Hannah shut them (Bradley) down there at the end.”
Now 11-1 in the circle this season, Hannah Triplett struck out five, walked just one and scattered 10 hits in the complete-game effort. She set down nine of the last 10 batters she faced, including getting three outs on just four pitches in the bottom of the seventh.
She also belted the first home run of her softball career, drilling a two-run shot over the left-center field fence to tie the game in the top of the fifth.
“I’ve never hit a home run, ever. Not in practice and never in a game of any kind,” the younger Triplett related.
Earning their first regular season district title since 1994 on Wednesday, Polk County (18-3 and a perfect 8-0 in 5-AA play) will now take a few days off before traveling to Hixson on April 24 and hosting Bradley the next day.
The Bearettes (5-9) will travel to Soddy-Daisy for a tournament this weekend before hosting the Lady Trojans Monday and making the journey back there Tuesday for District 5-AAA games.
“We have got to stay mentally tough for the entire seven innings,” assessed Bearette head coach Christie McElhaney. “We got behind tonight and then did a great job of coming back to take the lead, but then we gave it back to them. We have got to be aggressive until the final out.”
Both teams scored solo runs in Wednesday’s opening at bats. Briana Muller stroked a two-out double and then came around to score on an error a moment later to put the visitors ahead.
A one-out single, a stolen base and an error allowed Von Harrison to circle the bases in the bottom of the first to knot the score.
The Lady Wildcats took advantage of back-to-back walks to open the top of the second, with Aubrie Bowman driving in a pair of runs with a single and then scoring herself on a hit by Kate Williams.
Down 4-1, Bradley cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third when Sydney Morgan led off with a single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Olivia Williams.
The hosts vaulted into the lead in their next at bat with a four-run rally.
Kallie Hawkins started things off with a single, but then the next two batters got out before Chanler Grady ripped an RBI-double, followed by a run-scoring single by Morgan and an inside-the-park home run by Harrison on a shot that sliced just fair down the right-field line before skipping into the corner.
Polk County answered immediately in the game’s next at bat, when Muller stroked a one-out single before Triplett “left the building” with her first dinger.
The next three Lady Wildcats also reached base as Hannah Withrow and Ashton Johnson sandwiched singles around a walk to Emily Bates to load the bases.
After the next batter popped out, Felicia Johnson and Bowman ripped consecutive singles to plate three more runs.
The visitors tacked on a solo run in the sixth when Withrow drew a one-out free pass and later scored on a groundout by Felicia Johnson.
Muller and Withrow both singled and scored in the top of the seventh, with Muller scoring on an error and Withrow coming home on a single by Ashton Johnson.
Withrow went 3-for-4 at the plate, with a double, a walk and accounting for a trio of runs.
Muller was 3-for-5 with a stolen base, a double and three runs scored. Bowman drove in four teammates with her two hits on the night, while Triplett added a single to her “big fly.”
Ashton Johnson went 2-for-4, plus drew a walk, scored twice and had an RBI. Bates drew four free passes in the contest.
For Bradley, Harrison carried the big stick, going 2-for-3, with a walk, three stolen bases and a pair of “ribbies” on her round-tripper.
Williams also went 2-for-3, with one RBI, while Sydney Morgan had a pair of hits, scored twice and drove in a run.
Polk County 130 051 2 — 12 14 3
Bradley Central 101 400 0 — 6 10 3
WP: Hannah Triplett (11-1) 7 IP, 5 K’s, 1 BB, 10 hits, 5 ER; LP: Jenn Corbitt 4.2 IP, 1 K, 3 BB, 9 hits, 8 ER. HR: Hannah Triplett (PC); Von Harrison (BC) 2B: Briana Muller, Hannah Withrow (PC); Chanler Grady (BC); RBI: Aubrie Bowman 4, Triplett 2, Felicia Johnson 2, Ashton Johnson, Kate Williams (PC); Von Harrison 2, Olivia Williams, Grady, Sydney Morgan (BC). Highlights: Hannah Withrow 3-4, 2B, BB, 3 runs, SB; Briana Muller 3-5, 2B, 3 runs, SB; Aubrie Bowman 2-5, 4 RBIs, run; Ashton Johnson 2-4, BB, 2 runs, RBI; Emily Bates 4 BB, run; Hannah Triplett 2-5, HR, 2 RBIs, run (PC); Von Harrison 2-3, BB, HR, 2 RBIs, 3 SB, 2 runs; Olivia Williams 2-3, RBI; Sydney Morgan 2-4, 2 runs, RBI; Chanler Grady 1-3, SB, RBI, run (BC). Records: Polk County 18-3; Bradley Central 5-9.