KINGSPORT — Sixteen games into a new season, Daniel Boone head softball coach Rick Wagner said there has been some stress along the way even though his team is off to a very good start.
Perhaps that’s one of the small prices to pay for coming off such a successful season, where Boone finished as Class AAA state runner-up.
“I think the stress is coach-induced,” said Wagner, whose team improved to 14-2 by sweeping a pair of games Friday in the Kingsport/Eastman Fastpitch Softball Tournament. “We are expecting so much, maybe I need to back off. But it’s hard to do during a game when you see things that should come natural and it doesn’t — like running the bases, or swinging at a 3-0 pitch when we need a baserunner.”
Boone had a battle on its hands in Friday’s first game, coming from behind to defeat Wise (Va.) Central. Freshman Kaylin Conkin ripped a three-run homer to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead, and Boone held on for a 5-3 victory.
In the second game, Boone defeated Cocke County 7-0 behind a near-perfect game from freshman pitcher Jaclyn Jenkins. A fifth-inning single was the only baserunner she allowed while striking out eight.
In other results involving local teams Friday, David Crockett suffered a pair of losses. The Lady Pioneers were beaten 9-3 by Cleveland (Ohio) St. Joseph’s and 7-1 by Greenbrier.
Elizabethton won both of its contests, stopping Union County 5-4 and Oak Ridge by a score of 8-3.
Science Hill won its first game, pounding Richlands, Va., 9-1. The Lady Hilltoppers played University High late.
Unicoi County won its first two games, beating St. Joseph’s 11-1 and Greenbrier 4-1. The Lady Blue Devils played Cookeville late.
Happy Valley lost 13-1 to Tennessee High in its first game and 15-2 to Knox Halls in its second.
Daniel Boone’s wins were the first steps as the Lady Trailblazers try to defend their 2012 Eastman title. However, Wagner said he doesn’t think defending this title is his players’ main focus.
“Honestly we’ve got so many different people playing, I don’t think that’s the case,” said Wagner. “We’re still trying to create some kind of identity. I think it will come if the weather breaks.
“We’ve had one good game, and then one game so-so. We need to get more consistent.”
Some of the best consistency has come from a pair of freshmen. Conkin was batting an impressive .541 at the start of the Eastman, and upped her total to four homers and 14 RBIs in the win over Wise.
Meanwhile, Jenkins was hitting .412 with three homers and 21 RBIs while also putting together good performances in the circle. Jenkins took over as the main pitcher until McKenzi Ferguson returned from a preseason injury.
Ferguson has bounced back nicely from the injury, including a strong effort against Wise Central. She gave up three hits and one walk while striking out four batters in five innings.
Wagner said he will use both pitchers as the season goes along.
“We will pick and choose,” said Wagner. “There hasn’t been a game where I would have thought twice about putting Jenkins in there.”
Senior Kayla Sanders went 2 for 2 against Wise with a double. The senior catcher entered the tournament hitting .500.
In the win over Cocke County, Jenna Carmody hit an RBI double and later added a towering two-run homer over the left field fence. Sanders also hit a two-run homer.