The Paris Lady Eagles softball team, having won the 3A-4 North division and the top seed in next week’s district tournament, completed the last week of the regular season with a sweep of non-conference victories. On Friday, the Lady Eagles defeated a very good Class 3A Lincoln Lady Wolves team who Paris could very well see again in two weeks in the regional tournament. Paris won a hard-fought 8-4 victory over Lincoln.
Friday’s win over the Lady Wolves was Lady Eagles’ Jadyn Hart’s last home game of her high school career. Although she potentially has a lot of softball left to be played for Paris, it was moving to know that the talented Hart was taking the circle for her last time at home. And in the most fitting way, Hart once again pitched the distance for the win and the victory. In fact, the immortal senior struck out the side in her last inning pitched in the top of the seventh.
The Lady Eagles will play their final regular season game of the 2021 season on Monday at Mansfield. The Lady Tigers, playing in Class 2A for the first time, are composed of a very talented group of athletes that have had a tremendous year in all sports. The Lady Tigers were undefeated in volleyball and marched their way through the state tournament with decisive victories, winning the state title in dominating fashion. That tone continued in basketball where they again made a deep state tournament run, and now, in softball season, the Lady Tigers find themselves as the top seed in their conference going into their district tournament.
Paris will end their season against a very good Mansfield team who will test the Lady Eagles and be a great spring board going into post-season. Both teams are very good, and both teams should benefit down the line in the playoffs after having the chance to play each other on Monday. The timing of the game is good; both teams will have an opportunity to rest their pitching after the game and be in good shape for their conference tournaments.
Paris will play in the 3A-4 district tournament on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Eagles have a bye to the semi-finals due to their number one seed in the tournament. If Paris wins on Thursday, they will play in the final on Friday at 6 p.m. If they lose their semi-final game, they will play in the third place game on Friday at 4 p.m. Both the softball and baseball district tournaments will be played at Booneville, and simultaneously to each other at the same times at the baseball / softball complex.
After Friday’s win over Lincoln, I spoke with Lady Eagles’ softball coach Donald Hart by text. Coach Hart, pleased with how his team responded in the win over Lincoln, said, “I thought we played a well rounded game. In the circle we were able to strike out 15 against a good hitting Lincoln team. At the plate, we scored eight runs, despite leaving another eight on the bases. Defensively, we turned two double plays, one of which was a heads up play by first baseman Kasse Appleton.”
With respect to the last week of the regular season and a sweep of games in the last week, Coach Hart remarked, “We had a very good week going 4-0 vs some very good teams. I believe we are peaking at the right time for post-season play.”
As both a father and the coach of Jadyn Hart, who pitched her final game at home, I asked Coach Hart what emotions he was feeling as the game came to a close with Hart striking out the side in her final inning. Coach Hart said, “As a coach and a dad I didn’t put much focus on Friday with it being Jadyn’s last home game. I just wanted the team to send the seniors out on a win and finish a 10-1 home record. I believe everyone that was at the ballpark Friday got to see a senior that has put a ton of time and effort into the game she loves. She will be one of those kids that will be hard to replace. Obviously, when that last high school game comes for Jadyn, my emotions will be high.”
Yes Coach, all of our emotions will be high for this outstanding senior that has contributed greatly in two sports each year for Paris. But for now, the Lady Eagles have their sights set on the district tournament and district championship. The Lady Eagles have a sport already waiting in the regional tournament, so, for Paris, it is very much one step at a time for the Lady Eagles. If they don’t look too far ahead and take it week-by-week for the next three weeks, Paris could find themselves competing for a state championship.
Additional photos from Friday’s game with Lincoln are available on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports. Fans from both schools can access these photos and copy them at no charge. Resident Press will be in Paris on Monday to cover the baseball Eagles final regular season game with West Fork.
It is a big week coming up for both Paris teams as the regular seasons conclude and post-season play continues. Watch for coverage of the district tournament next weekend in the online edition of Resident Press. Good luck to both Paris teams, and I’ll see you at the ballpark!