The transition has worked well for Kristin Powell.
The McGavock High senior is a rarity in softball – a catcher who bats leadoff. Powell helped spark a 12-2, five-inning romp over Whites Creek Monday afternoon in the District 12-AAA tournament at Hunters Lane High.
A converted outfielder, Powell has played catcher all four seasons for the Raiders, who are trying to capture another district title. She doubled down the left-field line to open the game, scored twice, and helped spark McGavock into today’s winners bracket finals.
Asked about a catcher batting leadoff, she said. “It’s nerve-wracking – very nerve-wracking. You’re the very first one up and you’re trying to get on base, figure the pitcher out and set the tone for the game.
“Coach (Mike) Dennis has shown the confidence in me to bat me leadoff, and that’s given me confidence in return,’’ said Powell, a senior who has signed with Tennessee State. At TSU, she is penciled in to play center field, her natural position – but, yes, she can play catcher, as well.
“Allie Hoskins (who has signed with Cumberland) and I, as seniors, have tried to exert a lot of leadership,’’ Powell said. “It’s big deal for us. As seniors, and we want to go as far as possible.’’
“Kristin is a great young lady,’’ Dennis said. “Our catcher graduated four years ago, and we started without one her freshman year. I told her we really needed her to catch, learn the trade and take over back there. She hasn’t complained one bit about not playing in the outfield, and she’s performed great.’’
“I think it’s helped her in terms of signing with a college,’’ Dennis said. “They are looking for catchers, and when they find someone who can play outfield as well it’s a bonus. They want her to play outfield, but they know she can catch.’’
Powell was one of five players who scored two runs each for McGavock (16-7). Kristy Charles, Sarah Perry, Kia Bradley amd J.C. Cornwell also scored twice.
“We came out strong and got runs early,’’ said Charles, a freshman who had a double and one RBI. “We made some errors, but we came back from that.’’
Bradley, a senior, also went 2-for-3 with two RBIs as McGavock had seven hits, backing up pitchers Chantel Wilson (5-2), Ashley Carter and Keely Hunt.
Shatiqua Jones grounded a two-run single to center, scoring Rakia Johnson and Christa Dixon, who had walked, for the only two Cobra runs in the third inning.
HUNTERS LANE ROLLS: In the second game, host Hunters Lane exploded for six runs in the first and avenged two regular season losses with an 8-5 win over Antioch.
Lacy Dodson and Kaitlyn Dickens had two hits each for the Warriors (17-14), supporting pitchers Alexa Vicente and Ashley Tinch. Kate Hazelhurst and Tiffany Wade hit homers for Antioch.
McGavock meets Hunters Lane at 2:30 today in the winners bracket, then Antioch faces Whites Creek at 4:30 in an elimination game.
The wide-open district wound up in a three-way tie for first, with McGavock, Hunters Lane and Antioch all finishing 10-2. Hunters Lane beat McGavock twice, McGavock beat Antioch twice and Antioch beat Hunters Lane twice. But McGavock wound up first on a tie-breaker.
“Our bylaws state that whoever allows the least runs in district play wins the tiebreaker,’’ Dennis said. “We allowed 31 runs, Antioch allowed 32 and Hunters Lane 40. So we were seeded first.’’
LIPSCOMB ROMPS: In District 9-AA, Lipscomb trounced East Lit 16-1 as junior Rachel Pugh belted a homer, backing up winning pitcher Barkley Logan. The Mustangs advanced to the final four tonight at 7 vs. Hume-Fogg at Trevecca.
MBA, BA ADVANCE: MBA (19-10) trounced Ensworth 15-5 Monday in the opener of the DII Middle Region baseball tourney. Andy McLaughlin went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Jon Eisen also had three RBIs, backing up winning pitcher Frank Adelman. Brentwood Academy crushed JPII 14-4.
In the second round today, MBA visits top seed BGA at 6 p.m., while BA goes to No. 2 seed Ryan at 4 p.m. JPII visits Ensworth in an elimination game.