Magical postseason ends abruptly for HVA
HARDIN VALLEY — Hardin Valley Academy’s softball team had its plans for a second consecutive trip to Murfreesboro and the Class AAA State Tournament derailed Saturday night.
The Hawks, which shocked the softball world by winning the District 4-AAA and Region 2-AAA Tournaments last season en route to the Midstate, pulled off that double again in 2016 and faced a familiar opponent in Saturday night’s State Sectional round.
Only this time, the outcome was a bit different as Seymour (25-7) turned the table on HVA in a 4-0 victory. The Eagles, which lost in last year’s sectional round to the Hawks, ended Hardin Valley’s 2016 campaign.
The 2016 postseason strongly resembled that of the previous year. The Hawks pulled some district upsets and won a region title. This time however, Hardin Valley had to win the region on the road and did so when it knocked off District 4-AAA Champion Gibbs 4-0 in Corryton. But Seymour’s four-run seventh inning proved too much for the Hawks to overcome.
The Hawks had a chance to break ahead early Saturday but the home team was turned came up empty.
The Hawks (27-13-1) squandered a scoring chance in the bottom of the first inning after senior ace Kaleigh Wynne struck out the side in the top half of the frame.
Haley Cloud led off the bottom of the first and reached on a two-base error. Wynne followed and was intentionally walked before Trentham retired Mikaela Chavis, Leslie Beecham and Sydney Dukes to avert any damage. Dukes was Trentham’s first strikeout victim of the contest and said that the loss would only serve as motivation for HVA when it begins preparation for the 2017 campaign.
“This will only make us want to work harder for next
year,” said Dukes,” Hardin Valley’s sophomore center fielder, who walked twice in the game. “We learned a lot from this tonight. We learned that we can’t take anything or any team for granted.”
After issuing the intentional pass to Wynne in the first, Eagles senior pitcher Sam Trentham fanned the side in the second and retired eight consecutive Hawks before Dukes walked with two down in the fourth. The inning ended when Jodie Parham flew out to right.
The game was still knotted in a scoreless tie when Hardin Valley had its best chance to score in the fifth.
With one out in the inning, Dukes walked. Cloud reached on an error one out later before Seymour coach Jessica Sterling opted to intentionally walk Wynne to load the bases.
“I wasn’t going to let their best player beat us,” said Sterling, who attempted to walk Wynne in the third but the Hardin Valley senior swung at a pitch and popped out to Seymour catcher Reid Ballard. “I would’ve pitched to her if she came up with the bases loaded.
“Even then, I wouldn’t have really given her anything to hit.”
Sterling’s strategy worked as Chavis struck out to end the inning. That frame seemed to sum up things for the Hawks.
“We didn’t have any discipline at the plate,” Hardin Valley coach Whitney Hickam-Cruze said. “I think we came in ready to play ball and I don’t think the road to get here had any impact on us at all.
“[The difference in the game was] hitting. We couldn’t lay off the high ball.”
“I think we were just a little too aggressive at the plate and [Trentham] was able to use that against us,” Dukes said.
Trentham sat the Hawks down in order to end the game.
Hardin Valley may have failed to reach the goal of a return trip to Murfreesboro and the final loss had to sting.
But the year wasn’t without its high points. The Hawks won a district game in Farragut for the first time and Wynne, who hit a key two-run homer in the region championship game against Knox County’s Eagles, struck out 44 hitters in her final two high school games and fanned 18 when she outdueled Maryville ace Caylan Arnold in the recent District 4-AAA Championship game.
She was also one of two players to receive a college scholarship. Wynne will attend the College of Central Florida in Ocala. Senior Leslie Beecham will move on to Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. She had a solo home run at Gibbs.