In a 12-4 victory over the Waldron Lady Bulldogs in the second round of the 3A-4 District Softball Tournament, Hackett Lady Hornet, Alona Rothwell shined bright like a diamond. The freshman finished the game with 5 RBI on 3 hits including a points-ending homer. After defeating the #4 Cedarville Lady Pirates 16-1, the #3 Waldron Lady Bulldogs moved on to face the #2 Hackett Lady Hornets on Thursday, April 29. Hackett took the lead in the bottom of the first with four runs and never looked back ending the game with a 12-4 final score that qualified them for Regionals.
Shayla Foster was first on the board for Hackett when she scored from a line drive by Kayla Richardson. MacKenzie Mendenhall earned a run when Madi Taylor hit a ground ball to center. And Alona Rothwell kick-started her stat takeover when she brought not one but two runners home on a line drive to center field, (Sarah White and Madi Taylor). The bottom of the first closed out with Hackett on top 4-0. With neither team moving the scoreboard in the second inning, Hackett came back to life in the bottom of the third when Rothwell doubled on a fly ball to center allowing Taylor to score and Olivia Bouse singled bringing Rothwell home upgrading the score to 6-0 Hackett.
Waldron was finally able to make the numbers move in the top of the fourth when Kylie Bloomfield scored on an Ashtyn Moore sacrifice fly. The Lady Hornets were grounded in the bottom of the fourth and the fifth inning started with a tally of 6-1 Hackett. Lady Bulldog, Emily Powell engaged in a misdemeanor when she scored on a steal of home and Jayden Manning turned around and scored on a wild pitch sending the total to 6-3 Hackett. With Hackett yet again quiet in the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Hornets must have been playing dead because when they entered the bottom of the sixth, it was a blockbuster dirt bath.
Hackett delivered six total runs with Foster, Richardson, Madeline Freeman, and White taking ownership of the first four. The last two points came when Rothwell homered on a fly ball to left field bringing Taylor home with her. Lady Bulldog, Manning, added one more run for Waldron but it was too late as time ran out. “Last night was TOUGH,” exclaimed Waldron softball coach, Bailey Moore. “It ended our season and we were not prepared for it. I can hardly remember a time I’ve had to look at my field without these girls on it. They came in as a fiery group of freshmen and challenged me in ways I was not ready for. They pushed me and I pushed back and together we grew with each other’s help.”
“This group of girls has come in at 6 am to practice weekly. They have stayed late working on themselves or younger players. They have played multiple positions without any questions asked. They sat and watched with teary eyes as their junior year was stripped from them. They have celebrated my personal wins and grieved my losses and have taken in my daughter like family. Last night, a piece of me walked off the field for the last time. These will always be my girls and I’m devastated that I had to watch them in that uniform for the last time. Thank you for giving me the honor of hearing you call me coach for the last 4 years. I am sad to see this chapter of your lives come to an end but I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my fiery 4 seniors. There isn’t a thing in this world that you can’t achieve and I hope you never forget that!”
The Lady Bulldogs concluded the night with 6 hits as Jayden Manning made 2 and Ashtyn Moore(who also earned 1 RBI), Emily Powell(1 stolen base), Kyleigh Cook, and Ashton Young each made 1. Young logged 94 pitches to 37 batters faced striking out 4. And with a total of 18 putouts, Lily Woodard led with 7 followed by Saige Mahar with 4, Ashtyn Moore with 3, Kadance Espinoza with 2, and Cook and Young with 1 each. The Hackett Lady Hornets saw 17 hits with Richardson, Rothwell, and Taylor making 3 each, Foster, White, and Bouse netting 2 each, and Freeman and Emma Infalt making 1 apiece. Pitcher, Kayla Richardson worked the mound for 4.2 innings making 90 pitches to 21 BF and striking out 6 while Lexi Gann took over for 2.1 innings making 34 pitches to 10 batters striking out 1. In the fielding department, Hackett picked up 21 PO’s as Jayme Durham made 9, White made 8, Foster got 2, and Taylor and Mendenhall each snagged 1. As the Hackett Lady Hornets move on, they will next face #1 Booneville on Friday, April, 30 at 4 pm.
Photos courtesy of Bridget Freeman and Renee Rothwell