By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Brighton Lady Cardinals will play in the Sub-State in softball for the first since 2010.
Head Coach Robin Jacobs featured a lineup with stars like pitcher Leanna Coultson, shortstop Britt Stanford and first baseman Caroline Jacobs.
Now a lineup with standouts like pitcher Seeley Layne, designed player Raygan Huffman, center fielder Ta’mya Johnson and infielder Haley Rider have been on a hot streak. And the 2015 Lady Cardinals continued to heat up the Tipton County sky tonight beating the Bartlett Lady Panthers 8-0 in the Region 7-3A Semifinals.
Brighton veteran skipper Robin Jacobs said the 2009 and 2010 Lady Cardinals benefited from the maturity of Coultson in the circle. And he said the turning point for this year’s edition of the Lady Cardinals came when Layne had an epiphany.
“That inning against Arlington we played here, it seemed like our season changed,” he recalled. “They scored 5 runs in two innings. We went out there and talked about it. It seems like since that point, she’s gotten into a zone.
“Leanna did it her junior year,” Jacobs added. “It sort of kicked in the middle of her junior year. She really took off. Now Seeley is pitching really good and doing a real good job for us.”
Layne shut down the Lady Panthers for seven innings only giving up one hit. The defense of players like senior shortstop Anna McIntyre neutralized Bartlett.
The 8-0 victory gave Brighton a spot in the Regional championship against rival Munford and a slot in the Sub-State round.
“It’s probably the most important game of the year,” Jacobs said. “Even in the district tournament, you have another opportunity if you get beat in that. But with this you go home. Now we get to play until Friday. You’re looking for seven good innings now. You’re looking for a good game Friday to advance to the State Tournament.”
To earn those two games, the Lady Cardinals jumped out 2-0 in the first inning with Johnson scoring on a passed ball and Alex Griffin driving in a run.
Brighton displayed its power in the second inning with solo home runs from Huffman and Johnson. Then the reigning District 13-3A champions went ahead 5-0 when Layne singled in Rider, who doubled in the third inning.
The Brighton advantage increased to 6-0 in the fourth inning when Gracie Piorier drove in Johnson with a base hit. The Lady Cardinals added a pair of runs in the sixth inning with Layne and Currie McIntyre registering RBIs.
Eliminating the Lady Panthers set the Lady Cardinals on a journey to navigate at least two more game.
“Great problem,” Jacobs said. “Like I said the other day, I didn’t know when we would get another district tournament. It’s hard to win games. Teams are getting better. They compete against you really hard.
“For some reason, Brighton is always circled on their schedule,” he concluded. “We’re glad to be back in it. We’re glad to have someone chasing us instead of us chasing them.”
The chase for Brighton started last Wednesday in the Region 7-3A championship against the rival Munford Lady Cougars.
The Lady Cougars outlasted Brighton 2-0 to win the championship in extra innings.
The Lady Cardinals had to travel to Region 8-3A champion, the Collierville Lady Dragons later in the week. Collierville edged the Lady Cardinals 4-3 to advance to State.