MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Kaili Phillips got disqualified in the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Tipton-Rosemark Lady Rebels and nobody gave the Silverdale Lady Seahawks a snowball’s chance of winning that game.
But they did.
Nobody gave the Lady Seahawks much of a chance of repeating that feat less than 24 hours later in the winner-take-all final game, but once again, they did.
The Lady Rebels had won the opening game of the Division II-Class A state softball tournament by a 9-2 final, so everyone knew that Silverdale would have their hands full if they got a second chance.
And then on Friday morning in the third meeting of the week between these two teams, the Lady Seahawks pulled it off again in the form of a 6-4 victory.
Now despite a tremendous amount of adversity and a youthful team that featured four eighth graders, Silverdale has claimed its first-ever state title in softball.
“I’m speechless as I really don’t know where to start,” said Silverdale coach Tim Couch after his team’s season ended on a positive note at 30-8.
“Despite all the adversity we’ve faced this week, these young ladies really stepped up today. It’s been a most unbelievable season. And I’m so proud of Kaili as I knew what to expect from her in the dugout. She did her job keeping these kids spirit up, but these kids did so much more than I expected this season.
“We stepped up yesterday and we weren’t really worried before the game started today. We made a bunch of errors and were still able to overcome them to win. We knew we’d be in a fight as that’s a good team, but Breanna’s home run was huge and Maddie pitched another great game.
“This is such a great feeling and I’ve never been any more proud of any team I’ve coached in any sport,” Couch concluded.
Phillips, who will be playing for the Lady Vols next year, was sweating from head to toe when the final out had been recorded. She might not have been a factor on the field, but she was a huge force off it as she kept the Silverdale players and fans on their toes with her relentless spirit.
“It’s really amazing,” she said after the championship hardware had been presented.
“I’ve been cheering so much that my head hurts, but these young ladies brought it home today. Some of our biggest plays today were made by some of our youngest players, but I’m really proud of the way they performed these last two days,” she added.
Maddie Tankersley was the winning pitcher for the Lady Seahawks after going the distance and allowing four runs on just five hits. She also had three strikeouts and a pair of walks.
In addition to her outstanding performance in the circle, she also had two hits on the day and drove in the first run.
“This is so big for us and our program. We’ve been the underdog all season, so it’s really hard to describe. I had to make sure to hit my spots as they have a great team. And I just had to be patient at the plate and wait for my pitch. But for us to be able to come back and win is the most wonderful feeling in the world,” she smiled.
Savannah Turner led off the game with a single before going to third on back-to-back stolen bases. Tankersley’s single to right drove her in with Silverdale’s first run while McCade Cooper addede another run-scoring single with two outs for a 2-0 Lady Seahawk lead.
Cooper got hit by a pitch to lead off the Silverdale fourth and later scored on a single by Kayleigh Page with two outs. Marlee Montgomery then stroked a run-scoring single on a 1-1 count to put Silverdale up 4-0.
The Lady Rebels, who had loaded the bases with one out in the first but didn’t score, finally broke through with three runs in the fourth.
Emily West had the biggest blow with a two-run double while the third run scored on Silverdale’s second error of the inning. Tankersley then avoided further trouble by getting Lexie Williams and Meredith Owen on flies to the outfield to retire the side.
The Lady Rebels had renewed life after that one inning, but it didn’t take long for the momentum to shift back Silverdale’s way.
Relief pitcher Charli Rice got two quick outs for the Lady Rebels before Cooper got hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Breanna Sexton then ripped a two-run homer to left on a 1-2 count to again put Silverdale up by three runs.
Tankersley left two on base in the sixth as the Lady Rebels again failed to take advantage of their opportunities and they were able to add a meaningless run with two outs in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Rice, but Tankersley then struck out Abby West to end the game.
Turner and Tankersley were the only Silverdale players with two hits while five others had one each.
Rice was the only Lady Rebel with two hits as her team finished with five.
SILVERDALE 200 220 0 – 6 9 5
TIPTON ROSEMARK 000 300 1 – 4 5 0
Tankersley and Turner; Whitley, Rice (4) and Clifton.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)