By Thomas Sellers Jr.
ARLINGTON — A roller coaster has peaks and valleys, moments of high intensity and a very lows that will almost lure you asleep.
That means one of the oldest sports clichés applied to the Millington Lady Trojans week of April 9-13. Millington wrapped up the five-day period on the dirt of Bolton Softball Field Friday night. The Lady Wildcats outslugged the Lady Trojans for a 15-8 victory.
When Millington’s week started, the Lady Trojans picked up a District 15-2A win over the Haywood Lady Tomcats on the road. Senior TZ House’s first grand slam was the highlight of the 13-2 victory.
Then Millington took on one of Bolton’s league rivals the Bartlett Lady Panthers. Bartlett was able to pull out the win in the seventh inning.
Now 1-1 on the week, the Lady Trojans stepped back into District 15-2A play with another road trip making the drive to Ripley. The Lady Tigers took advantaged of a lackadaisical Millington squad to win the game running away.
“We were just not ready to play,” Millington Head Coach Whitney Horton noted. “As a coach, I’ve seen players get off the bus. I hate away games because it does give them a chance to nap. When I used to play, that was a no-no. It takes away your focus and when my girls got off the bus I could see they weren’t ready to play.
“Our attitudes weren’t in the right place,” she continued. “It showed and we played horrible defense. We couldn’t make solid contact with the ball at all. Dribblers to first, second and third, we had no big hits. Then you lose your shortstop for the year. That’s a big piece of the pie we’re going to be missing the rest of the year. I’m looking for other girls on the team, especially freshmen to fill that void that is missing there at short.”
With senior standout Paige Hall out for the rest of the season with a broken toe, the Lady Trojans had to move pieces around when facing Bolton. Horton handed the ball to sophomore hurler Jamiya Turner with normal starter Kaylee Bone nursing a shoulder injury.
“She has stepped up and pitched really well when I’ve asked her to,” Horton said. “To come in to be a part of a team midway through March, to gel with these kids and to come out there and pitch strikes when we need her, I’m very proud of her.”
The Lady Wildcats tested Turner throughout the first four innings jumping ahead 9-2. That set the table for the Lady Trojans to rally in the fifth inning. Millington trimmed the deficit to 9-6 with young players stepping up Coach Horton’s call.
Then Turner recorded a 1-2-3 inning with great defense behind her including a Hannah Clifton stop at third and laser throwout to House at first.
Bolton need some insurance and it came in the sixth inning. Larissa Wright sparked a 6-run frame with an RBI-producing ground ball to score Lindsey Crocker.
Three batters later Amelia Simpson stroked a single to drive in Jade Watson. Moments later in the inning, Emma Markle used a clean base hit to drive in a pair of runs to make the tally 14-6.
The Lady Trojans managed a pair of runs in the seventh before Bolton prevailed 15-8.
“You like to see your kids with that fight in their eyes,” Horton said. “But I told them if we’re not consistent, we’ll never win a ball game. We can’t hit, we’ll never win a ball game. If we can’t put runners on, we’ll never be able to win a ball game. So my question to them when we were finally scoring, ‘How bad do you want it? I need to see that hunger in your eyes I haven’t seen the past few days.’
“Before the game I told my freshmen they need to step up,” she concluded. “I didn’t care what class you were in — freshman to senior. I needed somebody to step up and be there for the team. I felt like my freshmen stepped up and had a lot of hits tonight. I’m very proud for all my freshmen and I’m very excited to see what this group will do as they turn into juniors and seniors.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.