By Chris Yow
BRENTWOOD — Describing the 2021 Spring Hill softball team in a word, Brentwood coach Erica Powell used the term “fighters.”
After falling behind by a pair of runs early Monday, the Lady Raiders put up 14 unanswered to earn a 14-2 win in the first round of the District 11-AAA tournament.
If Spring Hill (11-13) coach Angelina Martinez were choosing her fighter in a game of Mortal Kombat, she would choose freshman Gracie Boehms.
“She’s the scrappiest one I’ve got,” Martinez said. “If I had a top three scrappiest, she’d be at least in that top three.”
Boehms would be a good choice. The freshman, who came into the game hitting .107 for the season, drove in four runs — including a double to tie the game in the fourth and a two-run home run in the fifth — to lead her team to a win. Those two hits were her first and second extra-base hits of the year.
As she rounded third base, Boehms’ smile was ear-to-ear before she jumped on home plate and was mauled by teammates in celebration. What was going through her head at that moment?
“I don’t even remember,” she said. “My adrenaline was so high, I was pumped.”
Following several years of early exits in the district tournament, Spring Hill has made massive strides under its first-year coach. While having what Powell calls the “best pitcher in our league” in Kat Carter certainly doesn’t hurt, it’s what the Lady Raiders bats have done recently that have made the difference.
In four of their last seven games, Spring Hill has put up at least seven runs. The 2020 team put up just 10 total runs in five games last season, and didn’t score seven total runs in their final seven games of 2019 — including five shutouts.
“Accountability is the key,” Martinez said. “If they strike out looking, they have to run, and these girls hate running.
“I had to make a decision on whether I was going to be the tough coach or if I was going to be a soft place for them, and I think I chose correctly. These girls love to be challenged.”
Carter was once again stellar as well for the guests. She went the full six and gave up two runs on six hits and struck out 10.
As the Lady Raiders came into the dugout trailing 2-0 in the fourth inning, Martinez told them to keep their composure and reminded them they have been in that situation before. That speech worked to perfection. Spring Hill put up five in the fourth and added another five in the fifth to take a commanding lead for Carter in the circle.
The speech, much like the attitude and dugout spirit, then changed to taking care of the lead and not celebrating too early.
“They never give up. No matter what, they are always alive and cheering,” Powell said. “That spirit can help teams win games they shouldn’t or beat teams by a lot when they get momentum.”
The Lady Raiders advance to take on Summit, a team they are winless against on the season, in the second round on Tuesday at Fly Park. The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Brentwood will travel to Centennial where they await the winner of Centennial and Ravenwood in the losers bracket.