Categorized | Sports

Lady Rebels comeback nets home Sub-State series

After trailing 4-0, the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels rallied to make the score 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning.
The Lady Rebels were down to their final out in the Division II-A Regional Semifinal against the No. 1 seeded University School of Jackson Lady Bruins. Although Lady Rebel Field was the site of the game, TRA had to take on the role as the road team.
And starring defeat in the face, the role of hero fell on the shoulders of eighth grader Rachel Whitley. With two runners on base, Whitley and her Head Coach Johnie Sanfratello had different mindsets.
“I was really nervous because I knew I struck out the time before,” Whitley acknowledged.
Sanfratello had faith in his youngest player on the roster.
“I wasn’t nervous,” he said.; “I knew she had a great at bat the time before. I knew she would come through.”
Whitley swung her bat and the ball raced toward the right field line into the outfield allowing both base runners to cross home plate making the score 5-4.
“I knew it was good,” Whitley said of making contact. “I was so excited because I knew I did the job I needed to do.”
Once the ball landed, Sanfratello started waving runners home and keeping an eye on his eighth grader as she headed toward second base.
“I knew we were scoring,” he said. “I just hope she (Rachel) didn’t get thrown out somewhere. I was hoping her youth didn’t take over. I think she’s going to be a good player coming through like that.”
Whitley’s game-winning moment was set up by two runs in the fifth inning. Whitley scored on a passed ball and Taylor Beasley drove in Katie Diggs to make the score 4-2.
TRA rallied again in the sixth inning loading the bases, but no runs would cross the plate.
“We were just keeping our heads up and we’ve worked hard to get to this spot,” Whitley said. “We knew we had to stay up.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Beasley lead off with a bunt single. Two batters later pitcher Ashton Needham singled to reach base. TRA’s Jordyn Thornell made the score 4-3 with an infield hit and hustling down to first base.
After the Lady Bruins recorded the second out of the inning, Whitley approached the plate. Her double down the line gave TRA a 5-4 advantage.
“That’s what we talked about all day, never giving up,” Sanfratello said. “Whether you’re up 10 runs or down 10 runs, and they did it. The young girls came through, freshmen and eighth graders.”
But it was a senior that closed out the Lady Bruins. Needham had to record three outs to give TRA the victory and a home game in Sub-State to be played this week.
“Before the sixth inning she came out and said, ‘I’m getting too wild,’” Sanfratello recalled. “I said before she goes out there, ‘Don’t let all that negative come out.’ She came out dealing. She did it.”
Needham recorded a ground out and two fly ball outs in the seventh inning to finish off USJ.
“We just checked off another thing on the list,” Sanfratello said. “Like I told them, we’re not done yet. We have to get the next one.”
The Lady Rebels placed a check mark next to host Sub-State. In reaching that goal, TRA found out from the most experienced to the youngest names on the roster, it has clutch players it can count on.
“I learned, even though I am the youngest, it doesn’t matter,” Whitley concluded. “You can be the youngest person ever and do well.” The Lady Rebels won the Region championship and will host Sectionals this week as the No. 1 seed.TRA Softball Beasley slap TRA Softball Katie Diggs

TRA Lady Rebel senior pitcher Ashton Needham fires in a pitch as the backdrop is transformed by a sunset during last week's Regional Tournament at Lady Rebel Field.

TRA Lady Rebel senior pitcher Ashton Needham fires in a pitch as the backdrop is transformed by a sunset during last week’s Regional Tournament at Lady Rebel Field.

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