By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Tipton-Rosemark Academy’s Jordyn Thornell was having a tought time in the first round Division II-A Regional game last Thursday.
Although the Lady Rebels were ahead and TRA starting pitcher Rachel Whitley was keeping the Harding Academy Lady Tigers in check, Thornell couldn’t buy a hit. With the Lady Rebels ahead 8-0 in the fifth inning with two runners in scoring position it was time for the junior outfielder to return to the plate.
“I hit the first two right to her (the left fieder),” Thornell said. “I thought with that last hit she was going to catch it. It was another line drive.”
Thornell’s third hit went to centerfield like another laser. This time the ball fell to the ground allowing both runners to score and giving TRA the 10-0 victory.
“I was like, ‘Whew,’” Thornell said of the game-ending hit. “I hit a couple of hard ones but it was nice to have one finally fall.”
The 10 runs gave Whitley her first postseason win. The victory was the first playoff win for first-year Head Coach Johnie Sanfratello.
Whitley said the gloves were the consistent force paving the way to victory for TRA.
“My defense helped me out a lot,” she said. “They were pretty much all of my help.”
TRA went ahead 2-0 in the first inning courtesy of an Ashton Needham single and Katie Diggs taking a pitch with the bases loaded.
Solid defense from Jordan Collins and Bethany Berger kept the Lady Lions scoreless and got Whitley out of one jam.
The Lady Rebels’ cushion got larger in the fourth inning with three runs. Sally Downing singled in Anna Claire Williams to make the score 3-0.
Berger put down her glove for a moment and grabbed her bat to slap a base hit to score TRA’s fourth run. Needham kept swinging a hot stick driving in Berger with a double.
The Lady Rebels were able to put on the finishing touches offensively in the fifth inning. Whitley led off the inning with a single. Then Diggs placed down a bunt that she out ran down the first base line for a single.
Williams was next up to the plate and her bunt drove in the sixth run of the game. Downing drove in her second run of the night with a single to make the score 7-0.
Needham added her third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly. Ahead 8-0, the Lady Rebels got the game-ending hit from Thornell.
The Lady Rebels advanced in the winners’ bracket of the tournament.
“We’ve got to stay focused and come in ready to work,” Thornell said.