By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MURFREESBORO – The morning of May 27 was a chance at redemption for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels.
After winning there Division II-A State Softball opener 6-4 over Silverdale, the Lady Rebels were humbled and sent to the loser’s bracket after Columbia Academy dominated TRA 11-0.
TRA Head Coach Johnie Sanfratello and his crew went back to their hotels facing elimination and memories of 2018 when Silverdale won two games to take the State championship.
But the morning of May 27 would be a moment of redemption for TRA on the turf of the Murfreesboro Sports Complex & McKnight Fields beating the Silverdale Seahawks 7-0 and advancing to the 2021 championship round for a rematch with Columbia.
“Another game,” Sanfratello said moments after beating Silverdale. “We talked last night and these girls are just not ready for it to all be done. Yesterday was a butt-whopping. We just didn’t make a lot of adjustments throughout.
“When I was here in ‘18 I was here under a lot of medicine,”he recalled. “I was bite by a dog. I lost my temper a little bit with that group. I tried to make them understand that we have one more game. I am not going to be upset. When the clock turns over there is a whole new day, a whole new shot at it. We just have to go one pitch at a time, one inning at a time. Let’s not be thinking about winning two games.”
Before TRA could get into position to win a pair of games for the crown, the Lady Rebels jumped out 1-0 against the Seahawks after the first inning.
Silverdale made a couple of substitutions to keep the game close until the Lady Rebels erupted for 5 runs in the fourth inning.
The frame started with eighth grader Addie Thorpe walking. After Addie Glass moved the runner with a sacrifice bunt, Brooklyn Rose singled the runner home to make the tally 2-0.
After a Brooke Harrison single and Kayla Clement was hit by a pitch, dangerous hitter Ali Naumann was walked with the bases loaded. The base on balls brought TRA’s third runner home.
Ahead 3-0, Ryleigh Bowers singled to keep the bases loaded and score another runner to make the tally 4-0. TRA junior Myah Wright hit into an infield fly but still drove home a run to make the score 5-0.
The final RBI of the fourth inning came courtesy of Charli Rice with a single to make the tally 6-0.
Rice went back to work in the circle limiting the bats of Silverdale for the next three innings. The Seahawks hit into numerous pop-outs.
TRA added an insurance run in the seventh inning when Naumann drove in a runner with a single. Naumann and her fellow seniors Rice and Rose had clutch moments in fighting off elimination.
“Win the first inning, win the second inning and so on and we’ll have a shot at it,” Sanfratello said of the Columbia rematch. “Let’s make adjustments offensively.
“Lot of bunts and making them make mistakes today,” he continued. “And our seniors today came up huge. Brooklyn Rose had two big hits and Ali had a couple of hits and scored some runs. Our seniors led us to victory today.”
Now the stage is set for TRA to pull off what happened to them back in 2018. Needing a pair of wins to earn the State championship, Sanfratello said he will pitch to his girls one-pitch at a time.
“You’ve got to take it one game at time,” he added. “We have to find some way to put pressure on them. I don’t think they had a lot of pressure on them this season going 40-2. We have to for lack of a better phrase, hit them in the mouth.
“Pitch well and play defense and it can be on of those 1-0 games,” Sanfratello concluded. “It was 11-0 yesterday and we didn’t swing the bats like we are capable of. It’s going to take all 17 of those girls being in the game and getting that energy up. We’re not going home.”
The Lady Rebels went down fighting in the championship game later in the day. Columbia outlasted TRA 2-1 to win the State championship.
The 2021 State runner up Lady Rebels are Lillie Garner, Maddie Watkins, Grace Bell, Brooklyn Rose, Charli Rice, Kayla Clement, Addie Glass, Alice Sigler, Brooke Harrison, Laney Mills, Ryleigh Bowers, Shasta Slayman, Myah Wright, Gracen Williams, Sophie Roane, Addie Thorpe and Ali Naumann.