Following her team's best-ever finish in a weekend tournament, first-year Arts & Sciences coach Kaitie Holloway had no time at all to change her team's mindset from tournament competition to what are normally considered all-important district and intra-class games.
Thanks to the threat of bad weather Thursday, the Lady Patriots may be facing three games in as many days this week, capped with a District 5-A duel with Boyd-Buchanan. But while that sounds like a make-or-break week, the reality is CSAS coach Holloway is working overtime to keep her team from playing down to its opponents.
Over the last two days, CSAS has met a pair of District 7-A teams, Chattanooga Christian and Notre Dame, that have markedly different short-term goals than the Lady Patriots. But as the sun set on Tuesday's contest with the Lady Irish at Warner Park, Holloway was satisfied she and her team had not wasted their time.
"What we have to tell our team," said Holloway, "is that the way you look at these games is that you worry about the name across your own chest and not your opponents. We need to beat the teams we're supposed to the way we're supposed to."
CCS, which met the Lady Patriots on Monday, is a program with a long list of needs. The Lady Irish, Tuesday foe at Warner Park, was a fundamentally sound team in desperate need of pitching experience to build around. But each game went the way the Lady Patriots would have drawn it up.
Monday, CSAS senior pitcher LIana Rodrigues, a weekend commitment to the Lady Mocs' program, worked five flawless innings in a 17-0 shellacking of the Lady Chargers. Tuesday, Holloway came back with her second strong arm, Brianna Taylor, who struck out eight of the nine hitters she faced ion a 13-0 victory to raise the CSAS record to 12-4-1 for the season and Boyd-Buchanan on the horizon.
In fact, Monday's game was a record-setter in that CSAS ace Liana Rodrigues registered her first-ever perfect game. The right-hander struck out 13 of the 15 hitters she retired, including the first eight batters. Among the 14 hits were Kiara Suttles' sixth home run of the season -- all of them coming in the last week of competition. But the Lady Patriots' hottest bat has been junior Gabi Queener (11 for 12 in the Hits for Hope event over two days, seven games). Queener had a double and triple good for four RBIs on Monday, then Tuesday had the only extra-base hit, a long two-run triple
"We knew last year that we had talent," said Holloway, who replaced her older sister Kristen as head coach of the Lady Patriots. "But last year was literally a rebuilding year. We broke everything down and began building them back up, and the team finished just under .500. This year, we took the technical that we have learned and began adding the tactical. We told them to not only do things the right way, but to understand why we're doing things that way."
Case in point was the lack of effort that popped up a time or two Monday. Following that win, she had the team running suicide sprints in the outfield. But the focus was there Tuesday and the team left with no more than a post-game tete-a-tete. She followed that up with meetings with her two trusted assistants -- fulltime aide Samantha Everett and volunteer aide Lauren Stoker. Each has a specific area to oversee and each share's Holoway's no-nonsense approach.
"Don't mess around," she repeated her message to the team. "Our pitchers did a great job in these games and set the tempo."
CSAS 420 29 -- 17 14 0
CCS 000 00 -- 0 0 2
Fernandes and Suttles; Poe and Gadd. Highlights: Fernandez perfect game, 13 Ks; 2-5, 2 RBI; Brittany Patmon 2-3, 4 RBI; Kiera Suttles 2-3, HR (6th), 4 RBI; Gabi Queener 2B, 3B, 4 RBI.
Notre Dame 000 1 -- 1 1 1
CSAS 760 x -- 13 7 0
Mak. Guice, Gadd (2) and Gearinger; Taylor, Petulla (4) anad Suttles. Highlights: Rodrigues 2-2, 4 RBI; Queener 1-1, 2 RBI; Victoria Blanton 2-2, 2 RBI. Mikayla Guice (ND) only Irish hit.