Timely hitting and effective pitching by Lilly Kate Richards and reliever Elena Escobar helped seal the second 11-AAA district crown in three years for the Summit Lady Spartans softball team (21-6), defeating the Dickson County Cougars (26-11) at Centennial High School Friday night, 3-2.
“This is an awesome win for our team,” said Summit junior Claudette Runk
“It means we are ready to start the road to state and get the job done,” said Summit senior Elena Escobar.
“We have been working hard to get ready for this season,” said Summit head coach Jennifer Stevenson. “We have nine seniors this year, so it means a lot to be district champions right now.”
In the top of first inning, Summit starter Lily Kate Richards got out of a jam with runners on second and third striking out the side to shut down the Cougars offense at 0.
Dickson County starter Kate Peters retired the Summit lineup in order, drawing two fly outs and a groundout in the bottom of the first inning to keep the score at 0-0.
Richards continued to cruise in the top of the second recording two strikeouts and a groundout to third base, 0-0.
The Spartans got on the board in the bottom of the second with a 2-run RBI double by Haley Montgomery, 2-0.
“I wanted to get a hit, get on, and move the runners,” said Montgomery.
“Haley is typically a short game slapper, but she got the double to get the 2 RBI’s, which is really exciting,” said Coach Stevenson.
In the top of the third, Summit’s defense stood tall, forcing two runners out at second base on fielder’s choices and collecting a groundout to the shortstop to keep the advantage 2-0.
Dickson County starter Peters drew two groundouts and a fly out to hold the Spartans offense at bay in the bottom of the third, keeping the score at 2-0.
Richards kept her groove in the top of the fourth forcing two groundouts and recording a strikeout as the lead stayed at 2-0.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Summit added to their lead on an RBI single by Claudette Runk, 3-0.
“I was just telling myself that I have to get a hit right here,” said Runk. “I’ve got to find a hole.”
“Getting the runs was so huge for Haley and Claudette, because it gave us the insurance runs to win the game,” said Escobar.
“Claudette had not had a great tournament hitting so far,” said Coach Stevenson. “Today she broke out of that and had a big day.”
Richards kept Dickson County from getting a runner past second base in the top of the fifth, drawing two groundouts and erased a single with a fielder’s choice to hold the lead at 3-0.
The Spartans were unable to take advantage of a leadoff double in the bottom of the fifth inning as a force out at third, a groundout, and a fly out killed the momentum in the frame keeping the margin at 3-0.
In the top of the sixth inning, Dickson County battled back with a solo home run by Annabelle Ellis and aggressive base running on an error to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Cougars stopped the Spartans from tacking on runs in the bottom of the sixth as Peters recorded a strikeout and two groundouts to stay at 3-2.
In the top of the seventh, Escobar preserved the win for Richards and closed the door, drawing two pop outs and a groundout to the shortstop to win 3-2.
“It was awesome having LK (Lily Kate Richards) give them a different speed, because they have seen Elena so much,” said Runk. “Having Elena close out that last inning was great.”
“When Elena came in, I knew that we had this,” said Montgomery.
“It has been awesome to watch the two of them work together on the mound,” said Coach Stevenson. “When LK needs a swap, Elena is able to jump in there and finish up. They are a dynamic duo for sure.”
“Just get the outs and pitch the ball where they were not able to hit it,” said Escobar. “If they do hit it, get an out with it.”
Summit played Dickson County for the second time in this tournament after winning the first matchup earlier, 1-0.
“I knew it was going to be rough, because we had been so close,” said Montgomery. “We had to come out hitting to win this game, and that is what we did.”
“They have seen us so many times at the plate,” said Coach Stevenson. “You have to switch things up so they don’t know what is coming. Keeping those hitters guessing is tricky.”
Summit will play at home on Monday in the region tournament.
“I want to see us working together on defense and getting timely hits when we need them,” said Coach Stevenson.
Dickson County was able to enforce the run rule earlier against Brentwood in six innings, winning 11-1 in the losers bracket game. Due to the loss in the district final, the Cougars will travel for their region game on Monday.