The Grace Academy Lady Golden Eagles have been to Murfreesboro for the state softball tournament each of the last three years where they have finished as the runner-up each of the last two trips.
The four seniors are hoping to keep that streak alive for at least one more season.
Facing fourth-seeded Boyd-Buchanan in the second round of the District 5-A tournament on Monday afternoon at Grace, the hostesses appeared ready for another title run after defeating the Lady Bucs by a 10-0 final in five innings.
It was a solid performance for Grace on all sides as the offense pounded out 10 hits while scoring two runs in the first inning, seven more in the second before getting one more in the third.
Junior pitcher Tory Helton was pretty good as well as she limited the Lady Bucs to just one hit while improving to 19-4 overall.
The Lady Golden Eagles are now 22-7 after posting a perfect 8-0 mark in 5-A during the regular season. Boyd-Buchanan is now 7-14.
Grace will host the CSAS-Silverdale winner on Tuesday at 7 while the Lady Bucs will face the loser of the same two teams at Warner Park on Tuesday.
Grace coach Tina Walker knows that tournament time is a new season for everyone and a time for her girls to refocus on their goals, which is ultimately to win a state championship. Walker was happy with what she saw on Monday.
"I think we played pretty well as Tory kept people off base and we hit the ball well. I knew if we could do both of those that we'd win the game," Walker began.
"We played like we needed to play as we were extremely focused with no distractions. We're clicking right now, but this is the time to be playing our best softball. We're coming together at the right time.
"Bethany Cowart is one of our seniors who's out with a pulled hamstring right now. We had a few girls playing out of position today, but it didn't seem to bother them. We just need to keep playing like we're capable of playing," she added.
Boyd-Buchanan coach Brittany Carbonell certainly didn't sugar-coat her post-game comments.
"We've got to put this game behind us as tomorrow is do or die for us," she told her players after the game ended.
"We could have done better. We just have to put it all together, but we haven't yet. We've been so close so many times.
"Grace put it in play today and we didn't. We hit it hard at times, but it was always right at someone," Carbonell added.
Sophomore Alexa Hickman was the starting pitcher for the Lady Bucs and she was tagged with the loss after allowing all 10 runs and all 10 hits in three innings. Abbie Sewell pitched the fourth. Both Hickman and Sewell had one strikeout apiece.
Hickman also had the only hit for the Lady Bucs as she ripped a double down the line past third to lead off the third inning. A one-out walk to Giselle Reno put two runners on, but Helton quickly retired the next two hitters on a pop and a grounder both to her.
Maddy Horton came on to pitch the fourth inning and promptly walked Marisa McCalla. She had thrown two balls to Halie Williamson before time was called for a rain delay that lasted about 15 minutes.
Coach Walker decided to put Helton back in the circle once play resumed. Williamson stayed alive with a walk, but Helton escaped further trouble by retiring the next three.
Lexie Dean had three singles and scored three times to lead the Grace offensive attack.
Dean led off the first with a single to right before stealing second. A sacrifice bunt by Reagan Shrader got her to third and she scored on an infield single by Kaitlyn Eldridge. Another single by Savannah Jeno plated Eldridge and the difference was 2-0 after the first inning.
Grace sent 11 hitters to the plate in the second when the Lady Golden Eagles collected five hits and a walk while taking advantage of two errors to score seven runs.
Schrader had the biggest hit, a two-run triple to center while Helton had an RBI-double and Erika Goodman a run-scoring single.
Dean's third straight single led to the final run for Grace in the third and that came home on a sacrifice fly to center by Eldridge.
Dean had three hits to lead Grace while Schrader and Goodman both had two each. Jeno, Helton and Eldridge all had one apiece.
BOYD-BUCHANAN 000 00 -- 0 1 2
GRACE ACADEMY 271 0x -- 10 10 0
Hickman, Sewell (4) and Barnes; Helton, Horton (4), Helton (4) and Schrader.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)