After struggling through the regular season last year, the Summit softball team got hot down the stretch and surged all the way to the Class AAA sectionals.
This season, the Lady Spartans decided not to wait so long to start rolling.
With a roster full of experience, the Summit squad has won nine of its first 11 games, and currently sits at 4-0 start in District 11-AAA after posting a 9-2 road victory over Brentwood on Tuesday night.
The Lady Spartans banged out 14 hits in the win, and pitcher Taylor Penning worked five scoreless innings of relief to earn the decision.
Summit, which did not have any seniors on last year’s roster, appears to be brimming with confidence and momentum as they head into the heart of the district schedule.
“I feel like we’ve picked up where we left off last year,” said Summit coach Jenny Stevenson. “It helps that we returned all of our starters. … We’re really excited about where we are and where we’re going. We have big goals and we’re working hard to get them.”
Senior third baseman Kaitlyn Woodside — who went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in Tuesday’s win — said there is an undeniable unity among the Lady Spartans.
“On our team this year, everyone is definitely all in,” said Woodside, the Lipscomb commit. “And we’ve had a lot of different girls who have stepped up for us. Not just the seniors, but the juniors and sophomores, and even the freshmen, have come up big.”
The Lady Spartans’ balance was evident on Tuesday, when virtually every player in the Summit lineup contributed.
Leadoff hitter Mia Apple was the table-setter for the Lady Spartans, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two stolen bases. Sophomore Allison Knox went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, including driving home a run with a perfectly-executed squeeze play in the top of the seventh, and cleanup hitter Carly Scott went 2-for-4 with a walk and drove in two runs.
Morgan Woodside added two hits and an RBI, Aldyn Mathis had a two-run single in the first inning and Penning chipped in with a hit. All told, eight of the nine players in the lineup contributed at least one hit or scored a run for the Lady Spartans.
“I feel like there are no weak spots in our lineup,” said Stevenson, who saw her team score three runs in the first inning, two more in the second and another in the third to build a quick 6-0 lead. “(Opposing pitchers) have no room to breathe against us, one through nine.”
Brentwood, likewise, has a lineup filled with aggressive hitters. The Lady Bruins — who advanced to the Class AAA state tournament again last year — finished with eight hits in the loss.
Indy Cockrell went 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored, and Kaylee Seidel and Kaleigh Bottoms added two hits each. Ansley Casillas, Emily Cockrill and Elisabeth Laviolette had one hit apiece.
But despite the steady flow of hits, the Lady Bruins failed to capitalize on several key scoring chances, leaving 10 runners stranded in the loss, including six in scoring position. Brentwood scored its only two runs in the second inning, when Seidel connected for an RBI single and Laviolette was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“We didn’t come out today with our best at-bats,” said Brentwood coach Erica Powell, who noted her team wasn’t selective enough. “But give Summit a lot of credit. They have a great team.”
Brentwood is in the process of adjusting to the absence of pitcher Hannah Koenig, who graduated last year after a decorated career with the Lady Bruins.
“We’re learning to play a little differently now,” said Powell. “We’re learning to be more of a defensive team now instead of being a team that has a pitcher who strikes out 15 batters a game. We have played well at times, we just have to be more consistent.”
Summit 9, Brentwood 2
Summit 321 002 1 — 9 14 2
Brentwood 002 000 0 — 2 10 1
WP — Taylor Penning. LP — Emily Cockrill.
2B — Indy Cockrill (Brentwood), KK Woodside (Summit), Allison Knox (Summit).
RBIs — Summit: Allison Knox 2, Aldyn Mathis 2, Carly Scott 2, Kaitlyn Woodside 1, Morgan Woodside 1. Brentwood — Kaylee Seidel 1, Elisabeth Laviolette 1.
LOB — Brentwood 10, Summit 10.