Going out on top
LMS gives departing coach Big South victory
The LMS Tigerettes gave longtime coach Lee Perryman the perfect going away present when they swept their way to the Big South Conference Tournament title, going 3-0 in Chapel Hill on Friday and Saturday.
Perryman, who won a Division title in 2008 before taking the conference crown in 2009, is retiring from coaching after eight years at the helm of LMS.
"I couldn't ask for a better season, a better group of girls, or a better way to finish my last day," said an emotional Perryman after the title game. "I feel like we peaked at the right time, everybody had a part of this, everybody had their role and did it successfully."
LMS outscored their opponents 28-5 and got some clutch pitching in the circle from Brooklyn Conger and Halle Chapman, who finished off the title run with a solid 5-2 win over FMS in the championship game.
"It was definitely in our favor to have both of them," said Perryman. "It gave us an option, when somebody started seeing the same person all the time and they both did an outstanding job."
Chapman hurled all seven innings in the championship clincher, scattering five hits and giving up one earned run, while striking out two and walking one Lady Rockets' batter.
Leah Hollingsworth and Sydney Solomon had three hits apiece in the contest and Taylor Walls had one hit and two RBIs, including the eventual game winning RBI on a fielder's choice in the third inning.
Bunches of hits
LMS banged out 11 hits in the title tilt, adding to their impressive offensive totals for the weekend.
The Tigerettes banged out 32 hits in three games with Solomon (6-9, HR, 7RS, 5RBIs, BB, SB) and Ali Hobbs (6-10, 3RS, 2RBIs) leading the way with six hits apiece.
Leah Hollingsworth was a vacuum cleaner at shortstop for LMS, while going 4-11 out of the leadoff spot with four runs scored, two doubles and 2RBIs and two bases on balls.
Chapman also slashed four hits in eight at bats with a double and three RBIs.
Taylor Walls did not miss a beat at first base and at the plate, as double zero went 3-7 with four runs scored, two RBIs and two walks.
Lexie Cashion went 3-10 with two runs scored, one RBI and two bases on balls, while Conger (2-9, 3RBIs, 2 doubles, RS), Katherine Donahue (2-7, RBI, 2RS, 2B, BB, SB) and Hannah Sheppard (2-9, RS, 2B) all had two hits apiece in the tourney.
Second-seed LMS easily beat Spring Hill 10-0 in four innings in Friday night's opening round before pounding FMS 13-3 in a Saturday winner's bracket contest.
After a late season loss to LMS that sent them to the third-seed, FMS battled their way back, winning a 5-4 thriller Friday night over E.A. Cox, via a two-out bunt single RBI by Macayla Feller in the bottom of the eighth inning.
On Saturday morning, FMS took on top-seeded Cornersville and came away with a 6-2 win as Kayla Gillespie picked up with the win in the circle for the Lady Rockets, while driving in four runs at the plate.
Carson Warner had a big game at the plate for FMS, going a perfect 3-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Madison Curtis had three hits in four at bats, a base on balls and an RBI.
The Lady Bulldogs could not muster enough offensive to advance, losing 5-4 to E.A. Cox in a loser's bracket game.
Meanwhile, FMS had a chance to gain the upper edge on the Tigerettes as they went head-to-head in a winner's bracket game, but it was not to be as LMS won by 10 runs, sending the Lady Rockets to an elimination game versus E.A. Cox.
The Lady Cougars, fired up by their win over Cornersville were primed for the upset over the FMS as they took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning before the Lady Rockets pulled a second rabbit out of their hat in a heart wrenching 5-4 win on another game winning small ball hit, this time by Emma Stacey.
"Cox continued to improve throughout the year and they hit the ball, but my girls never gave up," said FMS head Coach Daniella Hooper.
Unfortunately, that would be the end of the road for Forrest as they could not stop the big swinging Tigerettes from winning the big one for their beloved and departing coach.
Between the two squads, 18 players will be taking their talents to the prep level at MCHS and Forrest next season.
"You can look at them right now, it is a great two ball teams, they play together all the time and I think next year, you will see a whole new generation of softball players, it will be interesting." said Perryman. "It's going to be hard, I know come next season it's going to be really hard, but I don't want to miss my own children growing up."
Hooper, in her second year at FMS, was also emotional after the game, saying "These girls love the game. There are some big shoes to fill from these eight-graders, because this is a special group, it is my first group as a head coach. We are going to have to work extra hard next year and it will be a great learning experience for all of us."