Recent Polk County graduate Lydia Triplett earned her second such honor of the school year as a member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Class AA team, while Walker Valley’s Hallie Davis is on the group’s Class AAA list after a super sophomore season.
“Wow, this is really such a great honor,” declared Triplett, who also earned all-state honors with Top 10 finishes in the past two TSSAA State Golf Championships.
“In golf it’s more of an individual honor because it’s based solely on your score at the state tournament, but to be voted in (by the TSWA committee after being nominated by a member) is really something special.”
“I’m excited and surprised,” proclaimed Davis, who now has two years of varsity starting experience under her belt and two more to go. “I felt like I had a pretty good year. It sure exceeded my expectations.”
Both players were quick to credit their teammates for the overall success of the teams, and for contributing to the all-state awards.
“My teammates took the pressure off. While we all wanted to do well, but we knew if we didn’t (in an at bat) someone else would pick us up,” related Davis. “Knowing that, we were confident in what we were doing and we were having fun.”
“We went through a lot (the death of one player’s mother early in the season) this year,” expressed Triplett. “That brought us together. We bonded as a team more, both on and off the field.”
“The coaches (Bill Triplett, Jason Jenkins and Michael Laycock) have stuck with us and our program has had a big turnaround the last few years,” the Tennessee Tech golf signee added. “I think the fact that we’ve done so well the last two probably helped (in her becoming the school’s first all-state softball player).”
Though the Lady Wildcats’ wins could be counted on a single hand after Triplett’s freshman season, the team was near .500 the following year before going 44-30 the past two campaigns. Polk finished second in the District 5-AA Tournament all four seasons but fell in the opening round of the region, the last two to East Hamilton, which is moving up to Class AAA after two straight TSSAA state tournament appearances.
Walker Valley, which has had a strong softball program for more than a decade, including a TSSAA state runner up run in 2005, went 26-7 and made a perfect 12-0 run through the District 5-AAA regular season schedule this past season, but for the second straight year had to settle for second at the district tournament and an opening round region loss at Coffee County.
Both Davis and Triplett drew high praise from their coaches in helping lead their respective teams to outstanding seasons.
“Hallie had an awesome season,” declared Lady Mustang mentor Lauren Limburg. “She has a tremendous work ethic. She always wants to stay late (after practice) to take extra batting practice.”
That dedication led to the second baseman posting a .516 on base percentage with a .434 batting average and a .953 slugging percentage as 29 of her 46 hits went for extra bases.
Batting leadoff in the Walker Valley order, Davis smacked an amazing 13 home runs and laced 16 doubles, plus scored 43 runs and drove in 26 in 33 games.
“She was a great offensive starter for us,” declared Limburg. “Five or six of her home runs led off a game. She had several huge hits for us and started a lot of scoring rallies.”
“She gives 110 percent all the time — in the classroom as well as on the field,” the Lady Mustang coach added. “She’s a great kid and an excellent team player.”
Polk County head coach Bill Triplett had similarly good thing to said about his shortstop, who also happens to be his daughter. “She had a great year. She led the (Southeast Tennessee) area in doubles with 23 and she hit .453. Those are real good numbers.”
The younger Triplett also scored 37 runs in 36 games, plus she stole 14 bases, had a home run and plated 26 RBIs.
“This (making the all-state) is a big surprise, but I think it is a reflection on our team, too,” he added. “We’ve (Polk softball) never had an all-state player, so this is a big honor for our program,” he continued. “There’s a lot of good softball players in Tennessee, and for one of ours to be recognized like this is a great honor.”
While Lydia Triplett will be hitting the links for Tennessee Tech University beginning this fall, Davis and her teammates will be preparing for another run at the tough District 5-AAA title and hopefully a May trip to Murfreesboro.
“We’re losing some great players, including our pitcher Sidney (Hooper who is heading to play for Austin Peay State University), but we have some girls ready to step in and play, so hopefully we can get everything together and have another great season,” Davis proclaimed. “Making all-state sets the bar high for me personally, but I feel like it serves as a challenge.”