By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The news is spreading quickly around the Shelby-Metro area that the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels are pretty good.
For a firsthand testimony, ask the FACS Lady Crusaders, Bartlett Lady Panthers and Bolton Lady Wildcats. Those teams have already suffered defeats at the hands of Johnie Sanfratello’s Lady Rebels.
The latest victim to the uprise of the defending Division II-A State champions was the ECS Lady Eagles St. Patrick’s Day at Lady Rebel Field. TRA used the pitching of Rachel Whitley and some timely hitting to win 13-1 in five innings.
“We are swinging the bats like I thought we would,” Sanfratello said. “We’re hitting the ball well. We’re going to be offensive minded. We plan to hit the ball well. But it all starts in the circle. Rachel has had 3 of the 4 wins.
“She just pounds the zone and throws a lot of ground balls,” he added. “She’s good at it. Offensively, she hasn’t gotten out many times. Our 2, 3, and 4 hitters have been on fire and swinging it well.”
Setting the table for the top of the lineup is Lady Rebel leadoff hitter Taylor Beasley. The junior centerfield started the game with a single.
Two batters later catcher Shelby Clifton got a base hit giving Whitley a chance to drive in a run. The freshman pitcher did just that with a single to make the score 1-0.
The No. 5 hitter Katie Diggs followed with another base hit to make the first inning score 2-0. After a big hit by Sarah Kate Downing, TRA was ahead 4-0 after one inning.
TRA added four more runs in the second inning with Beasley starting the frame with a double. Whitley drove her in with a single. Anne Claire Williams drove in the run with a base hit.
Then TRA senior Jordyn Thornell struck the big blow with a double driving in two runners to make the score 8-0.
The Lady Rebels went ahead 9-0 in the third inning when senior Bethany Berger drove in a teammate. ECS got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning.
Despite that run, TRA managed to put the game on ice in the fourth inning when Downing drove in another run to make the score 10-1. Clifton enforced the run-rule clearing all three bases of Lady Rebels with a double.
With win No. 4 in the books, Sanfratello said his team is playing well but still have a few things to adjust toward May.
“We work a lot on everybody doing their jobs,” he said. “If that’s hit-by-pitch, moving the runners over we hadn’t had many strike outs. We’re making them put the ball into play.
“Since it’s early in the season, it’s one of those situations you have to make their defense work,” Sanfratello concluded. “Anything can happen and if you can back it up with some triples and doubles, good things can happen. It’s exciting to watch right now.”