By Maurice Patton
SUMMERTOWN – The well prepared don’t get scared.
And in their Region 6-A tournament semifinal matchup Monday, Summertown’s Lady Eagles showed no fear – scoring four first-inning runs, allowing two total baserunners and rolling to a 9-0 win over visiting Huntingdon.
“People that are well prepared don’t get nervous,” senior Claire Woods said after driving in a pair of runs to get the Lady Eagles on the scoreboard, then going on to strike out 17 in a one-hit shutout.
“Nobody sees the work we put in. Everybody’s there for each other. Coach (Greg) Burleson works hard with us. It makes it all worth it.”
Against a youthful Huntingdon squad, that early flurry virtually decided the contest. But Summertown (29-2-1) took no chances, adding a pair of runs – one on a Kaley Campbell squeeze bunt that scored Hailey Jones – in the second inning and two more in a fourth inning keyed by a Woods leadoff double, a Jenna Brazier base hit and a Lucy Ballinger squeeze.
“We did some ‘small ball’ on ‘em early,” Burleson said. “A lot of times, with a young team, inexperienced, you can play some small ball, get some steals, get a couple of runs early and settle your nerves down.”
The pressure may have gotten to the Fillies (13-12), as they made three errors in the opening inning and five for the game.
“We knew they were athletic, that they were going to give us a game,” said first-year Huntingdon coach Alicia Hanson, who started four freshmen Monday and brought in a fifth, pitcher Natalie Kreuziger, in relief of starter Riley Holladay in the second inning. “We’ve played some great ball. Our bats just weren’t there (Monday).”
The visitors, who started six freshmen in their District 11-A tournament title game loss to McKenzie, avoided a perfect game when Kreuziger drew a one-out walk from Woods in the fifth. The Middle Tennessee State signee was within one out of a no-hitter before Kennedie Gibson singled to right field.
“A win’s a win,” Woods said.
The victory sets up a fifth meeting with District 12-A and county rival Loretto, which won 8-1 Monday at McKenzie. Summertown, which has won each of the previous four clashes, will host at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Both teams will advance to sectional play Friday.
Woods and Campbell have given the Lady Eagles a two-pronged threat in the circle that may put Summertown ahead of the pack as they try to make a third consecutive state championship game appearance, following their 2018 title victory and their second-place finish a year later.
“The girls are really confident, play with great energy, when either of them is in the circle,” Burleson said. “They’re both solid and have been solid all year. In Class A, you don’t normally have two solid pitchers like that. But it’s tough taking Kaley off shortstop. She’s the leader of the defense.”
Woods, Brazier and Ballinger each had a pair of hits, with eight of the nine Lady Eagles reaching base safely at least once.
“It’s very good to have good hitters around me to help me,” Woods said. “All our seniors hit the ball really well, and our younger players, too.”
Hanson, meanwhile, hopes her senior-less Fillies can take some positives out of Monday’s experience.
“Right now, it’s bittersweet,” she said. “We’re definitely looking forward to the future. These tough situations they’ve been put in are going to help them in the future. You can always build on something.
“You don’t want them to be scared. You want them to play the game.”
Summertown 9, Huntingdon 0
H 000 000 0 – 0 1 5
S 420 210 x – 9 11 0
Riley Holladay, Natalie Kreuziger (2) and Kennedie Gibson. Claire Woods and Caiti Beth Gallaher. W: Woods. L: Holladay.