The end didn’t seem to fit what led up to it.
Sequoyah entered the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday’s sectional game at Marion County ahead 6-3, needing to hold the Lady Warriors to two runs or less in the final frame to punch their ticket to the state tournament.
But it didn’t happen.
Marion County scored four runs in its final chance at bat to walk-off the game and send the Lady Chiefs home just short of their state goal. The rally followed six innings in which pitcher Tristan Bradley and her defense had held the Lady Warriors mostly in check.
“They’ve had a great year,” Sequoyah head coach Allen Roberts said. “We’re a really young team and had a chance to win today and let it get away from us right there. We left a lot of runners on (base) today too. We really did. We could have scored a lot more runs down here. Even when we got that three-run lead, I felt like we left runners on that we needed.
“They (came) back and got some timely hits and made plays. It’s softball.”
RBIs from Abbey Borden and Bradley gave Sequoyah a 2-0 lead midway through the first inning, and Bradley forced a 1-2-3 inning in the circle to conclude Marion County’s first frame.
The Lady Warriors took a 3-2 lead during the bottom of the fourth, but another Bradley RBI and one from Olivia Underwood notched the Lady Chiefs a 4-3 advantage midway through the sixth inning.
Sequoyah loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh and capitalized, as Maycee Bovard hit a two-run double on a full count to go ahead 6-3.
But all the Lady Chiefs’ defense could do was get one out in the bottom of the seventh. The Lady Warriors scored two runs before the out on a double and a single, then walked-off the game with another double afterward to end Sequoyah’s season.
Bradley pitched the entire game for Sequoyah, allowing 12 hits and two walks. She also recorded six strikeouts.
“(Tristan Bradley) pitched well,” Roberts said. “They got hot right there at the end. We can second guess all we want. I could have made a pitching change. They may have hit here. You just don’t know that. Outside of one inning, she had (thrown) all zeroes on the board all day.
“So I’m going to come back with her that inning no matter what, every time. And they hit. It ain’t like she walked them right there. They (came) out and hit the ball. They had some big hits and made some plays.”
Despite the disappointing loss one game short of the state tournament, there’s still plenty for Sequoyah to be proud of regarding the 2019 season.
The Lady Chiefs’ sectional appearance marked the farthest the program has ever made it in the postseason.
Sequoyah won the District 5-AA tournament and finished as runners-up in the region earlier this season.
Plus, most of Sequoyah’s roster are juniors or younger, so the Lady Chiefs will return most of its production next year.
“(This was) a building season,” Roberts said. “We’re young. We’re really young. I’ve got one senior and she doesn’t even hit in our lineup. I’ve got four juniors, two can play all the time. The majority of this team is sophomores and freshmen. We’re a young team, so we can build on this.
“It should motivate them for next season.”