FAYETTEVILLE -- Taylor Coach Adam Camp told his players before Monday's game that the team had an opportunity to write a storybook ending at Bogle Park.
Lindsey Downs and the Lady Tigers did just that as Taylor pulled away for a 10-0 victory against Hermitage in six innings to capture the Class 1A softball state title.
Downs picked up MVP honors after ending the game with a two-run home run to enact the mercy rule. She also pitched a gem on the mound, allowing two hits and getting nine strikeouts.
"What a finish to the season," Camp said. "It was a storybook ending after all. I told the players before the game we have played 31 games and have written 31 pages so far. She wrote the ending."
Taylor (31-1) captured its third consecutive state championship and the program's sixth overall.
"Our seniors have come in here and played well," Camp said. "This program has always been good. I'm blessed to have joined. The seniors have put this program on top. They have won more than 100 games in their careers."
Downs, a junior, allowed a leadoff triple to start the game to senior Haley Raney. Downs settled down after that, striking out the side. She allowed only a bloop single to Laini Barber the rest of the way.
Hermitage (21-10) entered Monday's game averaging 10 runs per game in postseason play, but Downs found success against the hot offense.
"She is a hard worker," Camp said of Downs. "She faces adversity and battles through it. She knows what to do in situations. She allowed that triple and then she got out of it. Nothing rattles her."
When a team gets its leadoff hitter on base in any inning, good things tend to happen. That was the case for Taylor in the early going. The Lady Tigers jumped out to an 8-0 lead after three innings after their leadoff hitter reached based to begin all three frames.
Taylor had back-to-back doubles from freshman Carly Downs and senior McKenzie Boyett to start the first inning. Both runners came around to score to take a 2-0 edge.
The Lady Tigers pushed their lead out to 3-0 in the second inning when junior Riley Hoyle brought home senior Preslie Morgan with an RBI hit.
Taylor broke the game open in the third inning with a five-run, three-hit frame to take an 8-0 advantage. Jasmyn Copeland, Lauran Lenard and Morgan all reached base to open the inning. They all came around to score along with Carly Downs and Keely Colinger.
"We have faced them four times," Camp said. "It has been a battle and grind each time as well. Getting leadoff runners against a team like that is huge. You can take momentum. It was big because if you give Hermitage an inch, they take a mile."
It wasn't the way Hermitage wanted its season to end, but Coach Matt Huitt was proud of the effort his team gave after missing the state tournament all together last season.
"It was a special bounce-back season for us," Huitt said. "It hurt last year. We were also one strike away from our season ending in the first round of the playoffs this season. These kids never gave up."
Sports on 05/21/2019
Print Headline: Taylor's tale turns out happy