By Maurice Patton
FRANKLIN – Though seven of Columbia Academy’s nine starters this spring also started during the team’s 2019 state championship run, there’s no such thing as too much talent.
With the arrival of junior first baseman Myleah Hardy, the Lady Bulldogs replaced the power previously provided by 2019 senior Brittany Adair – and then some.
“Myleah’s bat has been huge in our lineup,” CA coach Seth Anderson said between games Friday at the Raptor Classic tournament at Fly Park. “There’s been a couple of games that, had she not been in the lineup, the outcome might have been different.”
Friday’s first pool-play matchup certainly fit the bill. With two outs and two strikes in the fifth inning, the right-handed Hardy drilled a double into left-center field, scoring Tori Duval from first base with the winning run in a 2-1 walkoff victory over Hazel Green, Ala.
It was her eighth double of the season, to go with a .478 batting average, 35 runs batted in, 23 runs scored – and nine home runs, more than halfway to the school’s single-season record of 16, set by Shelby Burchell as a freshman in 2005.
“I love Myleah. She’ll always come up clutch, whether it’s getting a popup to get somebody else, or smack one over the fence,” senior pitcher/first baseman Journey Mitchell said. “We had Brittany and she was our ‘power’. (Hardy) replaces her really well, in my opinion.
“She’s consistent. She’ll do whatever needs to be done.”
With Hardy in the No. 4 spot in the batting order, Columbia Academy has posted a 23-2 record following Friday’s victories over Hazel Green and Lebanon – the latter a 9-0 decision in which Hardy drove in a run and scored twice.
“I have my ups and downs, but when I need to get the job done, I’ll get the job done,” said Hardy, who credited Tennessee Mojo coach Greg Carter – father of CA outfielder Chloe Carter — with her offensive development.
“I didn’t hit my first home run until 12U. Since I’ve been with Greg Carter, he’s completely changed me. He’s really been a big help.”
Playing with a handful of Lady Bulldogs in summer ball led to Hardy’s decision to transfer.
“Now that I play travel ball and there’s five of us on the same team, it was easy for me to come in and play for CA,” she said. “The thought of having my friends at CA, the ones I played travel ball with, I felt like I needed to move there and make a change, and it was a good change for me. The atmosphere, having a Christian environment, makes being there at school and learning so much easier.”
And while the team was virtually settled, Hardy was ready for whatever role she’d play on it.
“I thought I might not have a starting position, but I’m going to work my butt off until I do have one,” she said.
It didn’t take long.
“We’re not the same team (as 2019),” Anderson said. “A lot of the girls are the same, but we’re still trying to form our own identity.
“The only thing I knew of (Hardy) was I’d go watch some of my girls play travel ball and I would see her. I knew she was a good player, but I didn’t know her personally. She’s done a great job, really fit in well with the girls. She’s been a huge addition.”
Other Friday scores of interest: Hazel Green (Ala.) 5, Summit 0; Summit 3, Clarksville 0; Wilson Central 9, Independence 2; Summertown 6, Independence 1; Summertown 5, White House 2; Spring Hill 1, Hume-Fogg 0; Spring Hill 4, Cheatham Co. 2