Long before her team’s matchup with the Lady Indians, Sweetwater head softball coach Sarah Davies was wary of Sequatchie County.
“All year long, Sequatchie had been on my radar,” Davies said. “They were the favorites for this area. We were hoping to avoid them but Marion County got around them somehow in that regional game which we drew them. We were trying our hardest to avoid them.
“We saw them at (the) Meigs (County) tournament and we knew what they were capable of. They’re just a great team. They are.”
And she was right to worry.
Sequatchie County blanked Sweetwater in sectional play on Saturday, besting the Lady Wildcats 7-3 and eliminating them one game shy of a third consecutive state tournament appearance.
The Lady Indians scored runs in the first, second and fifth innings before Sweetwater was able to get a run off of an Addie Lowe RBI. By then, though, Sequatchie led 5-1.
Two more runs came across for the Lady Indians in the top of the seventh, and although Mari Robbins was able to hit a two-run homer in Sweetwater’s last frame, the Lady Wildcats couldn’t overcome Sequatchie’s lead, ending their season with the 7-3 loss.
Emily Barnes pitched the entire game for Sweetwater. She allowed eight hits while recording three strikeouts.
Davies said that her philosophy for the Lady Wildcats has been to play bigger, and sometimes better, teams and “take our lumps” in order to become a better program overall.
“I think we are a good A- (this season),” Davies said, “because we are one game short of our goal. My seniors fought hard, my kids fought hard. I’m super proud of them. Sequatchie’s just good.”
Sweetwater’s three seniors, Jordan Key, Alex Thompson and Abby Currier, will depart the program having been a part of a run that’s seen the Lady Wildcats notch back-to-back state tournament appearances, as well as District 5-AA tournament runners-up and Class AA regional champion titles this season.
And their impact isn’t lost on Davies.
“(The seniors) have helped make this program what it is today,” Davies said. “I’m proud of them. Jordan (Key) has been huge. There’s not a kid that can frame a pitch better than her. Alex (Thompson) just makes it look so easy in center field, the way she glides to the ball and makes those catches.
“And Abby (Currier), I’m super proud because she went through injuries and she hasn’t started until this year. And she fought for this position. I’ve got good kids on the bench. I’ve got really good kids on the bench. And she fought every single day to earn that position and I’m proud of her because she could have just given up after two years of injury, her shoulder. But she never gave up and I’m so proud of those three, especially for overcoming adversity.”
Despite the losses in leadership, though, Sweetwater will return a huge amount of its depth next season.
Juniors Robbins and Lowe were arguably Sweetwater’s most potent offensive weapons this year, along with freshman Ally Starnes, while junior Barnes was a key starter at pitcher for the Lady Wildcats.