BENTON — A 20-year-long drought came to a close Thursday night as the Polk County Lady Wildcats defeated Loudon 10-5 to become the District 5-AA tournament champions.
“It was one of those nights where we scratched for five, six, seven runs and turned it over to our pitching. We didn’t play very good defense, but when you score 10 runs you’re going to win,” Polk head coach Bill Triplett stated.
Lady Wildcat pitcher Hannah Triplett earned her 15th win from the circle, and struck out six and gave up only four hits to the Lady Redskins’ batters.
Loudon was held scoreless until the sixth inning.
Polk’s dominance at bat began in the bottom of the first with lead-off batter Aubrie Bowman.
After Bowman had successfully stolen second base, Kaitlyn Williams followed up with a double that drove in Bowman for the first run.
With a runner on third and one out, Triplett’s infield hit brought Williams home.
Following a quick three outs, the Lady Wildcats added another pair of runs to the scoreboard in the bottom of the second.
Ashlynn Johnson was handed a free pass to first, and then reached second when the Lady Redskins elected to get Macie Waldroup out at first base on a fielder’s choice.
Felecia Johnson got a piece of the action and was able to make it safely to first while Ashlynn Johnson beat the ball to third base.
After Felecia had stolen second, Bowman hit a line drive to center field that brought the Johnson-and-Johnson duo in for two runs.
Still holding Loudon scoreless, Polk County went on to add three more runs in the bottom of the third.
Triplett’s hit got things started, as the Lady Wildcats’ pitcher safely got on base.
Courtesy runner Taylor Carroll managed to slide into second base for the steal, and then a fielding error on a bunt from Hannah Withrow gave Carroll the chance to make it home.
Withrow stole second and Loudon pitcher Ivie Richesin handed out a free pass to Emily Bates, giving the Lady Wildcats runners on first and second.
Both base runners were able to advance a base during Waldroup’s at bat, and then a hit by the left fielder brought Withrow in for a run.
Before the final out, Bates was able to reach home and give Polk a 7-0 lead.
The Lady Wildcats had an eighth run added in the fifth inning, as two wild pitches were enough to bring Withrow in.
A double from Loudon’s Lexie Harmon and a series of defensive errors by Polk gave the Lady Redskins the chance to rack up three runs in the top of the sixth.
In their final at bat appearance, the Lady Wildcats had the opportunity to drive in a pair of runs.
Felecia Johnson was able to come home on a catcher’s error, before a strikeout gave Polk two outs.
Having finessed her way from second to third, Bowman was driven in by Triplett’s left field hit.
Before they could close out the game and officially claim their championship title, the Lady Wildcats first had to finish off the Lady Redskins in the top of the seventh.
A triple by Harmon drove in two final Loudon runners before Polk closed out the game.
“Our hitters, from top to bottom, I can’t say enough about them. We just battled all the way up and down the lineup, and that’s what is getting us through. We fought and fought with two strikes all night long, and had several ground balls that drove in runners again.
“I also have to give a shout-out to my assistant coaches, Jason Jenkins and Ryan Phelps, for all that they do,” Coach Triplett declared. “We’ve got 24 wins under our belts this season, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
The Lady Wildcats will host Hixson on Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the regional tournament.
LADY WILDCATS 10, LADY REDSKINS 5
Loudon 000 003 2 — 5 4 3
Polk County 223 012 x — 10 12 3
WP: Hannah Triplett (15-3). LP: Ivie Richesin. 3B: Lexie Harmon (L). 2B: Aubrie Bowman, Kaitlyn Williams (PC); Harmon (L). Highlights: Bowman 3-4, 2 RBI; Triplett 3-4, 2 RBI; Hanna Withrow 2-3, 2 runs (PC); Harmon 2-4 (L). Records: Polk County 24-6.