Category Archives: high school softball

Lady Tigers claw Santa Fe 18-2 to begin District 10-A action

By Maurice Patton

MT. PLEASANT – Scoring multiple runs in each of its four at-bats, Mt. Pleasant opened District 10-A play Tuesday with an 18-2 win over visiting Santa Fe.

It was a continuation of offensive productivity for the Lady Tigers, who broke loose for six seventh-inning runs in a 13-7 win Monday at Perry County – avenging a 1-0 loss to the Lady Vikings in last week’s season opener – and improved to 5-3.

“We hit the ball really well Monday,” Mt. Pleasant coach Misti Grooms said “We hit a few right on the nose, but right at people.

“We try to talk about, you’re only as good as your weakest player. We want 1-through-9, 1-through-10 to be solid. We need that consistency.”

With hits up and down the lineup, the hosts posted 11 total against Santa Fe’s Madelyn Woodard and Terralyn Pemberton as the Lady Wildcats dropped to 0-2 on the year, following a 10-5 loss Monday at East Hickman.

“This was our second game … That’s a tough team,” Santa Fe coach Seth Woodard said. “They’re seven or eight games into the season. We had a late night against East Hickman. We threw two pitchers that it was their first game pitching. It’s been tough, with the rain, losing a week to the ice storm. It’s been trial by fire.”

Back-to-back RBI triples from Kylie Brewer and Abigail Workman keyed Mt. Pleasant’s four-run first, junior catcher Baleigh Gray had one of three hits in a five-run second and 10 Lady Tigers went to the plate in a seven-run third.

“It just puts confidence into all of us,” Gray said. “I think we’ve improved a lot. There’s some things we need to work on.”

Santa Fe faces visiting Community at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with Mt. Pleasant hosting league rival Richland at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Mt. Pleasant 18, Santa Fe 2 (4 inn.)

SF 0 1 1 0 – 2 4 5
MP 4 5 7 2 – 18 11 0

Madelyn Woodard, Terralyn Pemberton (4) and Lexi McEwen; Katie Thomason and Baleigh Gray. W: Thomason; L: Woodard.

Early Zion tourney provides proving ground for squads

By Maurice Patton

Unlike the previous weekend, winning a championship wasn’t the primary objective for Loretto’s Lady Mustangs as they took the field in Saturday’s Zion Christian Invitational softball tournament.

Welcoming 10 players from the Class A girls basketball state title team, fifth-year coach Justin Tidwell was more concerned with getting the right people in the right places – as were most of the other coaches participating in the six-team tourney.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for the team, where we are position-wise,” Tidwell said as the Lady Mustangs defeated Community 9-6 in the finals. “ … All our pitchers (played basketball). We’re watching pitch counts, trying to get ready for the season. It may take a little to get them acclimated to softball.”

While other teams didn’t have the same personnel issues as Loretto and its heavy influx of basketball players, the preseason was not without its challenges – which gave Saturday’s bracket play and Friday’s scheduled games a bit of a ‘play day’ look for most of the participants.

“We’re putting people in different spots, making sure we’ve got them where they need to be,” veteran Mt. Pleasant coach Misti Grooms said as her Lady Tigers played their way into the losers bracket finals of the double-elimination tournament before falling 5-3 to Community.

“We’re just trying to get some games in. With the weather, last week wasn’t a good week. We’re trying to get some games under our belts.”

Coming at the end of the first week of the regular season, the event was the season opener for a handful of teams. For those that had managed games, that was a slim number. And with preseason scrimmages disallowed by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association as a result of COVID-19 protocols, the opportunity to play a number of contests in a short time was a welcome one for coaches.

“We got in this when I found out we weren’t going to have a preseason,” Spring Hill coach Gary Caperton said. “With so many new faces, we’re trying to figure out who plays where.

“Kat (Carter), D’Naijah (Wade), Bella (Umstead) and Brooke Hill are our four returners from the one-week season (in 2020). Everybody else is brand new or played limited junior varsity. With all these new faces, you’re like – who do we play? Can you play? How many positions have you played? We’re trying to feel out what we’ve got.”

The Lady Raiders advanced to the losers bracket semifinals before Community eliminated them 1-0 despite a 12-strikeout effort from Carter, a Jacksonville State (Ala.) signee. Wade, who signed with Alabama A&M, went 1-for-2 in the loss.

“That’s good for two at-bats, two (defensive) positions,” Caperton said regarding his two NCAA Division I recruits.

Even in losing efforts, the opportunity to get on the field was a valuable one.

“We learned a lot as a team,” first-year Zion Christian coach Russ Adcox said. “We went 0-3, but we competed in every game. We saw a lot we hadn’t had a chance to work on. The best thing was seeing live pitching. We hit the ball well; we’ve just got to tighten up on defense.

“We’ve got six freshmen out there. They haven’t got enough ball under their belts. Once they do, I think they’ll be OK.”

Saturday results

Mt. Pleasant 10, Culleoka 2
Loretto 4, Spring Hill 2
Mt. Pleasant 5, Zion Chr. 4
Loretto 10, Community 4
Spring Hill 14, Culleoka 0
Community 7, Zion Chr. 5
Loretto 7, Mt. Pleasant 3
Community 1, Spring Hill 0
Community 5, Mt. Pleasant 3
Loretto 9, Community 6

Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports

Lady ‘Dawgs power past Indy, pick up 22nd straight victory

By Maurice Patton

They may not be the ‘defending’ state softball champions – two years removed from their 2019 Class A title and now competing in Division II-A – but Columbia Academy’s Lady Bulldogs do have a winning streak that stands at 22 games over three seasons following Tuesday’s 15-0, four-inning victory over visiting Independence.

“They’re a pretty hungry group,” CA coach Seth Anderson said after his team scored in each of its at-bats and got home runs from Kennedy Chatman and Myleah Hardy a day after a 3-0 season-opening homefield win against Dickson County.

“I think all your spring sport athletes are anxious and excited and ready to get this season going. They’re not taking anything for granted after last year.”

After plating a pair of runs in the opening inning and three more in the second, Columbia Academy broke the contest open against an Independence squad that lost 10-2 Monday night at Columbia Central. Hardy, a transfer from Lawrence County, and Chatman each went deep during a seven-run third inning.

“We put the ball in play,” Anderson said. “(Hardy) definitely provides some power to our offense, and she’s got a strong glove at first base when Journey is pitching, so we don’t really miss a beat over there.”

Senior Journey Mitchell, meanwhile, struck out nine straight batters and finished with 10.

“She really did a good job crushing the strike zone,” Anderson said regarding the Carson-Newman signee. “She got ahead in counts early. That helped her out.”

Scheduled to play Thursday at Loretto, the Lady Bulldogs are set to participate this weekend in the Mary Vowell Classic at Franklin’s Fly Park.

Photos by Vanessa Beach / SM-Tn Sports

Columbia Central softball experiences coaching change

By Maurice Patton

‘Philosophical differences’, vague as it sounds, may be the best way to describe the situation that resulted in Shelby Burchell Tietgens’ recent resignation as softball coach at Columbia Central.

“There were some differences in opinions between Shelby and the administration, and it was decided between the two that it was best that they part ways,” said Hannah Thomason Cole, whose installation as interim coach was announced Friday night.

Named to succeed current Central athletics director Kevin Creech following the 2019 season, Tietgens’ tenure ended Thursday – a month before preseason practice officially begins, and after, officially, just three games in a pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

“It was disappointing to not have a season last year. That was out of everybody’s control,” she said. “It was not ideal for anybody.”

Her impact on the program far exceeded that 0-3 record, though.

Shelby Burchell Tietgens (right) resigned as softball coach at Columbia Central this week. Burchell Tietgens took over the program in June 2019, coaching through a COVID-shortened 2020 season that limited the Lady Lions to just three games. (Courtesy photo by Rob Fleming)

A five-year starter and a four-year all-state selection at Columbia Academy – where she and Thomason Cole were teammates, and where she is an Athletic Hall of Fame honoree – Burchell Tietgens went on to play in two Women’s College World Series over four seasons at the University of Tennessee. After ending her playing career in 2012, she returned to the area and worked as a personal instructor and coached travel ball prior to taking over the Lady Lions’ helm.

“I don’t feel like there’s a lot to comment on because I don’t want there to be anything crazy,” she said. “I just feel like this was the best for everybody, everyone involved. I do know the program is in capable hands with Hannah. I think she’ll do great.

“I just think it would probably be best if I just kept my mouth shut. I don’t have to be involved with it any more. It won’t affect me, the things that I say, but it will affect others. That’s what I’m trying to steer clear of, is not making it any harder on anybody else.”

Central principal Roger White was reluctant to discuss the issue as well.

“I’m disappointed that that’s what Shelby has decided to do,” he said. “We wish her well in whatever she does in the future.”

Despite the change, and its timing, Cole expects the foundation laid by Tietgens over the past 18 months to pay dividends this spring.

“I’m excited to take on the challenge,” she said. “I know that there will probably be some difficulties moving forward. I’ve only been an assistant coach; I’ve never been in the head coaching role, but I have a great support system. I think with the team we have, we will do well this year.

“Since I’ve been with Coach Tietgens, starting in the summer tryouts and the fall, being present with her, we have a lot of the same values and outlook on team sports and softball. We’re going to continue to keep those moving forward. The girls of course are upset about the loss of Coach Tietgens, as we all are. They’re also ready and excited to move forward with us.”

In her absence, Tietgens hopes for the best for her now former players.

“I do want the program to be successful,” she said. “I love those girls. They’re going to do well.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for SM-Tn Sports. He can be reached at mopattonsports@gmail.com or @mopatton_sports on Twitter.

Zion announces Adcox as new softball coach

SM-TN Sports

Zion Christian announced Monday morning the hiring of Russ Adcox as its new head softball coach. He spent three years as an assistant coach for Zion’s middle school softball team and the last six years as an assistant coach for varsity softball under Tommy Fox.

“I know I’ve got big shoes to fill following Coach Fox, and we’re definitely going to miss (Fox’s daughters) Caroline and Ella on the field, but I think we’ve got the right elements in place to have a really good team,” Adcox said in a release from the school.

Russ Adcox / Courtesy Photo

Adcox takes over a program that was 5-1 before the 2020 season was ended due to COVID-19. They replace three seniors — Lauryn Kinser, Sarah Joiner and Sewanee signee Kathryn Kennedy — from that team, but Adcox is confident the program will continue to thrive under his leadership, along with assistant coaches Jeff Hazard and Eric Coble.

“(Hazard) and I have coached together for the last six years. We understand the system (Fox) implemented and plan to keep as much of it as possible,” Adcox said. 

Coble was an assistant coach with Zion’s middle school team that went undefeated last season, and has previously coached at Mt. Pleasant. Adcox is excited to add both coaches to the staff, and believes the 2021 team will be competitive.

“We’ve got a great group of girls, including four returning seniors and a really good freshman class coming off an undefeated middle school (season),” he said. “The girls have been playing together a while, half of them are playing with travel organizations, and Coach Hazard and Coach Coble are going to be a big asset to the program.

“I can’t wait for the season to get started. The girls love the game and each other. It’s going to be fun year with this group.”

Adcox has been a member of the Zion coaching community for nine years. He is also the President of the ZCA Booster Club, and has been an active volunteer in Zion athletics since in 2004. He also serves as the Lead Pastor of Maury Hills Church in Columbia and on numerous non-profit boards in the community.

Fox trot leaves openings at Zion

By Maurice Patton

One departure leaves Zion Christian Academy with three athletic staff vacancies.

Tommy Fox, who has served as boys basketball coach, softball coach and athletics director at the school, has accepted similar roles at Wayne Christian School in Goldsboro, N.C. Fox will rejoin former Zion football coach, AD and interim head of school Paul Brenner at the K-12 institution.

“Obviously we’re close from when we were back at Zion. I had the opportunity to hire him there and work with him there,” said Brenner, school head at Wayne Christian. “I just think the world of him. He’s great with kids, he’s a super head coach, I love his family – his wife (Tara) is a great teacher as well. We’ve just stayed in contact with each other. Not only did we work together, but we’re good friends. We went to church together.”

Fox, hired as boys basketball and softball coach prior to the 2013-14 school year, took on AD duties in 2017 — succeeding Brenner in that role – along with the girls basketball coaching position. He relinquished the latter this past season with the hiring of Emory Ujano, who was recently dismissed as well.

“I really wasn’t looking at all,” said Fox, 44. “We got presented with a really good opportunity. Any time you’re presented with an opportunity, you’ve got to take a look at it and do what’s best for your family. I didn’t know it was the best thing for my family when I got the call, but after a tremendous amount of prayer and some wise counsel, it sounded like a great opportunity.”

Adam Thomas, upper school principal, said the plan for filling four staff positions is taking shape.

“We’re discussing how all that plays out right now,” he said. “Finding a person that can do as many different things as Tommy is not an easy find. He did a lot of things and he was good at a lot of things. As much as I’m happy for him, I’m sad for myself and all the folks that are going to miss him. He’s a tremendous person to have at Zion and a tremendous loss.

“We’d obviously love to have an AD that could coach; that’s something we’ll look at. But a lot will be determined by who are our opportunities, and then who best fits the mission of Zion.”

Fox said he will remain at Zion through the end of his contract, which expires July 31, before he, Tara and their seven children head east.

“Zion’s a very dear place to my heart,” he said. “My kids love Zion, I love Zion. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and a lot of hard work, and I’ve coached some great kids. I’ve definitely been blessed by being here.”