By Chris Yow
MT. PLEASANT — The hits took a little longer to fall than Richland coach Annette Edwards wanted, but once they did, her Lady Raiders took advantage. Her team busted out 10 runs over the final two innings to take the District 10-A title 11-1 in five innings over Mt. Pleasant.
“These girls are determined, and when they set their mind to something, they are going to get it done,” Edwards said. “I never doubted tonight the hits would eventually fall, but it took longer than usual.”
Mt. Pleasant’s Sophie Rettinger held the Lady Raiders to just two hits over the first three innings. Her defense made both routine and difficult plays to help pull her through.
In the fourth inning, however, a pair of singles by Halle Braden and Katie Garner got things rolling for Richland. An error helped plate a pair of runs before Allie Garner sent a fly ball to center where it slipped under a charging Baleigh Gray’s glove and rolled several feet, allowing two runs to score. Another may have scored, but Gray Teegarden mistook the stop sign meant for Garner as if it were for her to remain at third base.
With a commanding lead, the district’s pitcher of the year Brooklyn Reed took over. The lone Tiger run scored after reaching on a dropped third strike and a sacrifice fly in the first inning. From there, Reed was dominant, giving up just one hit and one walk for the game.
“She’s all we have right now, and she’s carried us since she was in 8th grade,” Edwards said. “She’s going to push through whatever the circumstances are; she’s definitely a team player.”
Richland plated six in the fifth and walked off the first district title since 2014, according to Edwards, which was the year following the Lady Raiders’ only fast-pitch state title.
For Mt. Pleasant, a district title was the goal, but a spot in the region tournament for the first time since 2015 is a big step for this program, coach Misti Grooms said.
“That last team that went to region had more (upperclassmen), and this team is really young,” she said.
The Lady Tigers have just two seniors and three juniors on the team. The experience of making it out of a district tournament, Grooms said, is going to play a big role in the future of the program.
“I have a team full of freshmen, really. Even my sophomores I consider freshmen because we didn’t get to play last year,” she said. “For a lot of my girls our first practice was the first time they picked up a bat in a year.”
The opponents for each team have not been published, but the two will match up with teams from District 9-A in the region tournament.
10-A All-Tournament Team: Gracie Adams, Richland; Katie Thomason, Mt. Pleasant; Madelyn Woodard, Santa Fe; Rachel Rich, Richland; Briley Boles, Culleoka; Shelby McNeal, Mt. Pleasant; Brooklyn Reed, Richland