The Anderson County Softball Lady Mavericks put together a busy, gritty, and historic start to their 2019 season, and head into April with an overall 16-4 record.To end the month of March, the Lady Mavs played ten games in five days—Anderson County won nine out of those ten ballgames. After returning home as quarterfinalists at the Gulf Shores Classic Tournament, the Lady Mavs began the ten-game work week at Karns, last Tuesday, in a District 3-AAA contest. Anderson County blanked the Lady Beavers, 8-0.Maryville College commit and senior pitcher, Hannah Bruce, notched a complete game shutout against the Lady Beavers. Bruce pitched all seven innings, faced 23 batters, and homed in 57 strikes out of 85 pitches. The senior would only give up two hits and tallied ten K’s.The Lady Mavs’ offense would score eight runs on seven hits, in route to district win. Aundria Long would lead Anderson County at the dish. The junior catcher went 2-for-3, with a double and 3 RBIs.
On Thursday, Anderson County traveled to the Oak Ridge Invitational, for a bout with Smyrna High School.
Again, Lady Mavs’ ace Hannah Bruce would show out in the circle. For the third time this season, the senior would
toss a no-hitter. Through five innings, Bruce faced 16 batters, delivered 37 strikes out of 53 pitches, and gave up no runs, no hits, and sat down six Smyrna hitters.
Also, again, Aundria Long would deliver instant offense. In the top of the third, with the bases loaded, Long smashed a bases-clearing double to left field.
The designated hitter’s three RBIs gave Anderson County a 4-0 lead heading into the fourth inning, and the Lady Mavs cruised to a 6-0 shutout of Smyrna.
The following day, Anderson County traveled to Kingsport, to compete in the Eastman Softball Invitational.
Under the Friday night lights, the Lady Mavs began pool play with an 8-3 victory over Grainger; then unloaded more offense on Unaka, for an 8-1 win.
On Saturday, Anderson County continued pool play with a 5-3 comeback win over White House-Heritage, before crushing Volunteer High School 11-1.
The Lady Mavs outscored their four pool play opponents combined 32-8, and advanced into the round of 16 as the fourth seed.
In their first bracket game, Saturday night, the Lady Mavs used the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a 2-0 lead into a 7-0 lead, and defeated David Crockett easily, 7-1.
With the win, Anderson County advanced into the elite eight.
On Sunday afternoon, with a spot in the final four on the line, Anderson County faced Daniel Boone in an intense, back-and-fourth affair.
The Lady Blazers took a two-run lead in the top of the first, however the Lady Mavs flipped the script in the third inning, with four runs.
Anderson County added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and took a 6-2 advantage into the fifth. Yet, Daniel Boone answered by bringing five runs across in the top of the fifth, and took a 7-6 lead.
After tying the ballgame up at 7-7, in the bottom of the fifth, the Anderson County defense held the Lady Blazers scoreless in the top of the sixth.
With runners on the corners, Anderson County’s hottest bat stepped up to the plate—Aundria Long.
Facing a full count, on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Long smashed a walk-off double to left field—clutch.
Long’s walk-off RBI-double sent the Lady Mavs to the final four, with an 8-7 win over Daniel Boone.
Within the hour of advancing, Anderson County was back on the diamond against Morristown-Hamblen East, for a spot in the championship game.
As the ballgame headed into the fourth inning, both teams were deadlocked, 3-3.
The Lady Mavs’ breakthrough would come in the top of the fifth inning, with two outs, after freshman Leah Freeman reached with a double.
Hannah Bruce stepped to the plate and ripped an RBI-double to left, scoring Freeman from second.
Next up was Mallorie Overton, who roped an RBI-single back up the middle. Audrey Lankford, who was pinch running for Bruce, raced 120 feet to score from second.
With a 5-3 lead, held the Lady ‘Canes scoreless in the home half of the fifth—and Anderson County advanced to the Eastman Invitational Championship Game.
To earn the title, the Lady Mavs would have to defeat a familiar foe—the defending AAA Champions, the district rival, the Lady Panthers of Powell High School. The championship match-up marked the second non-districtmeeting between the two schools in 11 days.
After Powell ended the Lady Mavs’ Gulf Shores Tournament run, Anderson County sought to return the favor. Momentum was on Anderson County’s side, as the Lady Mavs took a 6-2 lead into the fourth inning.
Yet, Powell tied the game with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, and momentum shifted.
Each side added a run in the fifth inning, and the all-District 3-AAA Eastman Tournament Title affair headed into the sixth inning tied, 7-7.
However, the Lady Mavs failed to score in the top half of the sixth, and Powell seized the opportunity.
A walk-off single gave Powell the title, and an 8-7 win over Anderson County.
Nevertheless, over the span of 21 days, the Lady Mavs have completed 20 games, and have proven themselves to be among the elite in TSSAA AAA Softball.
Because not all teams play during the week of Spring Break, any TSSAA softball team heading into the month of April with 20 games already under their belt is rare.
Still, as of March 31, the Lady Mavs’ (16-4, 3-0) record speaks for itself—Anderson County currently has the fourth best record in TSSAA Class AAA Softball, and the seventh best record in all High School Softball in the state of Tennessee.
In fact, during the 16-year span from 2002-2018, the Anderson County Softball program never entered April with 20 completed games, nor did any Lady Mavs team begin April with 16 wins, during that span.
The Lady Mavs’ four losses come against quality opponents: Fairhope—the defending Alabama 7A State Champs, Huntsville—currently the second ranked team in Alabama Area 7-7A, and two non-district games to Powell.
In other words, right now, Anderson County is one of the best teams in the state.
The Lady Mavs will the Lady Dragons of Clinton this Friday, April 5.
First Pitch is currently scheduled for 2:45.