BENTON — Bill Triplett gathered his Lady Wildcats outside the dugout after their District 5-AA semifinal game against Sequoyah Tuesday afternoon.
The Polk County coach held up a pair of trophies and told his girls their 9-4 win over Sequoyah was fine and dandy, but now they had to decide if they wanted the District 5-AA first-place or second-place trophy.
The Lady Wildcats instantly chose the latter. They will get their chance Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against either Loudon or the same Sequoyah Lady Chiefs.
“We’re in the region tournament, but now it looks like we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We want to try to host,” said Triplett.
“We didn’t play well today but we battled. It wasn’t pretty, but we battled at bat and played a little small ball. We’re very fortunate we can do that. We got some key groundouts defensively with runners on third base.
It didn’t look good early for the Lady Wildcats (23-6), who stumbled through the first 2 1/2 innings while the Lady Chiefs built a 3-0 lead.
Polk snapped out of its slumber in the bottom of the third and came roaring back to tie the game on an Aubrey Bowman double and singles off the bats of Muller and Hannah Triplett. Felicia Johnson and Kaitlyn Williams came through with sacrifices, and the Lady Chiefs helped out with an error.
Sequoyah added another run in the top of the fourth, but Polk did even more damage in the bottom of the frame, beginning with a single to left field by Emily Bates and an attempted sacrifice that turned into a bunt single from Ashlyn Johnson. Macy Waldroup cracked a two-RBI double to left to make it 5-3 and back-to-back Sequoyah errors put the Lady Wildcats out front 7-4.
Williams got an RBI on a ground ball to first and Muller added another single as Polk sent 10 batters to the plate in the five-run outburst.
A Sequoyah pitching change to begin the lower portion of the fifth slowed the Lady ’Cats down a bit, but not enough to keep them from tacking on another run, thanks to a Johnson single and Lady Chiefs’ miscue.
Solid defense behind a superb pitching effort from Brianna Muller kept the Lady Chiefs off the board and locked up the win for Polk.
Muller gave up only four hits while striking out four Lady Chiefs.
“They were just fighting, battling, putting the ball in play and scoring big runs. I’m proud of them,” said a pleased Triplett. “Our shortstop (Bowman) in the seventh inning is diving for the ball in the five and six hole. We had a girl (Muller) who slid into second base and fought with me to keep her in the game, even though she was shaken up a little bit. That’s what I want. Our second baseman (Williams) got key ground balls to score runs; she got two of them today with two strikes on her. That’s the kind of effort we’ve got to have.”
LADY WILDCATS 9, LADY CHIEFS 4
Sequoyah 021 100 0 — 4 4 4
Polk County 003 510 x — 9 10 3
WP: Brianna Muller. LP: Hannah Lay. 2B: Aubrey Bowman, Macey Waldroup (PC). Highlights: Haley Robbins RBI, Candice Coon RBI (S); Bowman RBI, Muller 2-4, Hannah Triplett 2-4 RBI, Kaitlyn Williams 3 RBI, Waldroup 2 RBIs (PC). Records: Polk County 23-6.