High School Softball

Softball: Independence tops Page, falters against Dickson County

Dickson County advances to face Summit in championship

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Softball – Independence vs. Page, District 11-AAA Tournament

Elena Escobar tossed two complete games. She rang up 26 strikeouts Friday — compiling 12 Ks in the win over Page, and adding 14 more against Dickson County. 

See IMAGES for full photo gallery. 

For the Independence softball team, a season that was filled with bright and shining moments came to an end on a damp and dreary night.

The Lady Eagles, the District 11-AAA regular-season champs, suffered a 2-0 loss to No. 5-seeded Dickson County in the elimination-round finals on Friday evening at Franklin High School. The game was played amid a steady rainfall that started just before the first pitch, and lingered throughout most the night.

Independence came into the day needing to win two games to advance to the tournament finals — and clinch an automatic berth in the Region 6-AAA tournament. The Lady Eagles opened the day with a 7-2 victory over No. 6-seeded Page, but the Indy bats were quieted in the second game.

Dickson County advanced to face Summit in the championship game on Saturday at Summit at 1 p.m. if the weather permits. 

Independence coach Shane Buchanan said despite the disappointment of Friday’s outcome, his players can look back with pride on the 2019 campaign.

“I am extremely proud of this team,” he said. “They’ve done a tremendous job and have really set the standard. I hope that we will start doing this every year.”

Indy pitcher Elena Escobar, who was named the 11-AAA MVP, tossed two overpowering complete games. She rang up 26 strikeouts on the day — compiling 12 Ks in the win over Page, and adding 14 more against Dickson County.

The only runs Escobar allowed against the Lady Cougars came in the top of the first inning, when Dickson County cleanup hitter Josie Russell connected for a two-run homer to center field.

Russell said she was surprised that her first-inning blast proved to be in the difference in the game.

“I expected there to be more runs,” she said. “But this was a great team win for us. If we keep playing like we have this week, we can go far (in the postseason).”

After the first inning homer, Escobar limited Dickson County to one hit over the final six innings.

Dickson County’s Ashlan Sensing earned the win in the circle, tossing a six-hit shutout and finishing with a pair of strikeouts.

Indy threatened to break through in the bottom of the sixth, when the Lady Eagles had two runners on with no outs. But Sensing buckled down, and escaped the jam.

“Both pitchers had great performances,” said Buchanan. “And it seemed like whenever we did hit the ball hard, we hit it right at somebody.”

Buchanan said the rainy conditions were frustrating for the players, but were not necessarily a distraction.

“It was raining on their side of the field just like it was on our side,” he said. “I think both teams would have rather had (better weather conditions) — especially in a game where there so much at stake — but that’s just part of it. You just have to play when it’s time to play.”

Indy leadoff hitter Makinlee Webb finished 2-for-3, and four of her teammates — Josie Bond, McKinley Zemek, Gracie Zentz and Morgan Brown — added one each.

Earlier, in Indy’s 7-2 win over Page, the Lady Eagles broke open a 2-2 tie by putting together a five-run outburst in the fifth inning. The Lady Eagles sent 11 batters to the plate during the frame, which included RBI singles by Bond and Zentz, and was aided by three Page errors.

The game featured some early-inning fireworks, with Indy’s Escobar launching a solo homer in the bottom of the first, and Page’s Jenna Johnson, the Alabama signee, answering with a bases-empty blast in the third.

Seven players in the Independence lineup finished with one hit each — Makinlee Webb, Bond, Escobar, Lauren Pinckard, Zentz, Abby O’Reilly and Alexis Brewer.

For Page, the top three players in the lineup accounted for all five of the Lady Patriots’ hits. Johnson and Ellie Dehainaut finished 2-for-3, and leadoff hitter Lyza Dehainaut went 1-for-3.

Johnson, who was named the district’s Gold Glove winner, had a fantastic tournament. In addition to hitting three homers, she also made a game-saving catch — tumbling over the fence in centerfield — in Page’s opening-round win against Brentwood.

11-AAA CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND INFORMATION

Dickson County will play Summit in the championship round on Saturday at Summit at 1 p.m. If Dickson County wins the 1 p.m. game against the Lady Spartans (who are 3-0 in the tourney), the teams will play again at roughly 3 p.m. to decide the title.

The championship game(s) was originally scheduled to be played at Franklin, but the coaches elected to move the game to Summit’s home field, which was covered by a tarp all day on Friday.

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