Three feet – one measly yard – has made a significant difference this season in high school girls softball.
That’s the opinion of many, including veteran Ezell-Harding coach Don Freudenthal, whose teams have won 12 state championships and who recently won his 700th career game.
Per a new national rule implemented before the season started, the distance of the pitching rubber to home plate for girls softball was moved from 40 feet back to 43.
“It has really changed the game,” Freudenthal said. “I’ve always felt that games were won on the basis of pitching and defense, because of the dominance a team could have with a good pitcher. But that’s changed, and hitting has come more into the equation.
“I’ve noticed that scores of games have been significantly higher than last year’s and previous years, and I think that’s directly because the mound is further back.”
The top pitchers are still that – top pitchers, Freudenthal said.
“The really good ones like Holly Hockaday at Davidson Academy and the pitcher at Soddy Daisy (Kelsey Nunley) are still having success because they are outstanding pitchers and have enough power to get their stuff past hitters,” he said. “Some good pitchers, who don’t throw that much heat, are having a bit more trouble, because the hitters have slightly more time to adjust their swing.
“Our pitcher, Caylee Bobo, is very good, but she’s not someone who can overpower you. If she makes a mistake or gets a pitch up too much, it’s going to get hit.”
Donaldson expected to be new Hunters Lane coach
Former Shelbyville High star Missy Donaldson is expected to be named head girls basketball coach at Hunters Lane High sometime this week.
Donaldson was a standout guard and a key part of the tradition-rich program at Shelbyville under coach Rick Insell (now head women’s coach at MTSU). She became coach at Coffee County High where she guided the Raiders to the 1993 girls Class AAA state championship.
In that season, Coffee County (32-3) knocked off district foe and four-time defending state champ Shelbyville, her alma mater, en route to winning the title. Donaldson later became head coach at Smyrna High. She is currently a teacher at Hunters Lane.
She would replace LeBrian McGill, who resigned recently.
Bobcats take aim at finals
Overton is fast closing in on another district baseball championship.
The Bobcats scored in every inning on their way to a 16-2, mercy-rule romp over Hunters Lane in their District 12-AAA tournament opener last Friday at Overton. Mookie Betts went 3-for-4, Drew Allen scored four runs, and Matt Barrett had four RBIs, backing up winning pitcher Cody Sutherland (7-2). Freshman Justin Lang had two RBI singles for Hunters Lane.
“There’s a lot going on (with the devastating flooding which has hit Nashville), and playing baseball is secondary to the people who are hurting,” Overton Coach Mike Morrison said. “Maybe with people coming to see us play might create a little diversion and take their minds off their problems, at least for a little while.”
For his part, Morrison was not exactly in a good mood early in that contest.
“We got off to a slow start, then everyone started hitting the ball,’’ Betts said. “Coach got mad at us early on, then we started getting after it.”
The Bobcats play Glencliff at 5 p.m. Monday. They already have one victory by virtue of the 10-run rule over Glencliff. If Gencliff wins, the teams will play again at 7 p.m. for the spot in the championship (7 p.m. Tuesday or Wednesday).
After the loss to Overton, Hunters Lane was defeated by Glencliff in an elimination contest and ended its season at 8-23.
“We could have scheduled light, but we wanted to play good competition,” Hunters Lane coach Clayton Dahl, a former Hillsboro coach, said. “We have just two seniors, Phillip Stinnett and John Rediker. I think we have a bright future.”
FRA advances in DII, faces Knox Webb
Franklin Road Academy (23-6) earned a trip to a second-round game at Knoxville Webb (2:30 p.m. CDT, Monday) by beating Davidson Academy in Saturday’s opener of the DII-A Middle/East Region baseball tournament.
In a game that featured a bevy of walks, dropped popups and fly balls and non-stop runs, FRA avenged an early-season 15-14 loss to the Bears and scored in every inning but one in a 17-10 victory.
“That’s the last time I’ll schedule a game at noon,” veteran Coach George Weicker said, noting, “The sun and tricky winds played havoc with fly balls.”
Connor Maitland was the winning pitcher in relief and also had four hits. Matt Williamson and Elliott Jackson also had three hits each, with Jackson’s two-run single giving the Panthers the lead for good 12-10. Senior Austin Gifford had pulled Davidson into a 10-10 tie, belting a grand slam homer to right in the fifth.
It was a big sports day at FRA as the Panthers beat Riverside Christian 3-1 in their DII region soccer opener. That team visits Mt. Juliet Christian Tuesday. In tennis, FRA hosts defending state team champ USN Monday.
Whites Creek forced to forfeit
Whites Creek received a tough forfeit loss to M.L. King prior to the Cobras’ opening round game Friday in the District 12-AAA softball tournament. Flooding has caused Metro schools to be out all of last week, adding to the problems.
“There were seven girls whom we could not get in touch with, four because their phones were out and three more because we simply didn’t know where they were, we think possibly having to be relocated because of flooding to their homes,” Whites Creek principal Karl Lang said. “There were 14 players on the team, and there were just seven we were able to reach who could play.
“We requested to re-schedule for Monday, and they (tournament officials) told us no, they had to go ahead and start. Thanks a lot for a little compassion.”
District soccer tournament games Monday
The District 7-A/AA soccer tournament continues Monday with four games, all at 6 p.m. – East Lit at CPA, Goodpasture at Hume-Fogg, Maplewood at Lipscomb and Stratford at M.L. King.
The winners move to CPA Tuesday where the CPA-East Lit winner plays the Hume-Fogg-Goodpasture winner at 5 p.m., followed by the Lipscomb-Maplewood winner vs. the MLK-Stratford winner at 7 p.m. Finals are Thursday night at 7 at CPA. Winner and runner-up advance to region.