BRISTOL – Driving to Bristol apparently gives Daniel Boone’s Kaylin Conkin a powerful urge.
Conkin hit two home runs Monday, helping the Lady Trailblazers to an 11-1, six-inning defeat of Volunteer in the District 1-AAA softball tournament at Rotary Park.
Top-seeded Daniel Boone (33-6) will play tonight at 7:30 in the winners’ bracket final against second-seeded Science Hill (27-13), which escaped Dobyns-Bennett thanks to a two-run seventh in Monday’s nightcap.
D-B (23-16) and the Lady Falcons (21-15) will play tonight at 6 in an elimination game.
Conkin entered Monday’s game with four home runs on the season, two of which came in a win against Tennessee High that was also at Rotary Park. She lined a 3-0 pitch well beyond the left field fence in the fourth inning Monday, and hit a 2-2 pitch out in left-center to begin the scoring with a two-run home run in Boone’s game-ending six-run sixth.
“I knew the first one was gone, but the second one I kind of rolled over on,” said Conkin, who bats seventh in a power-laden lineup.
Leadoff batter Kayla Sanders also hit a two-run homer in the sixth, which was her sixth of the season, too. Sanders finished 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs, raising her season average to .495 (51-for-103).
“We’ve got a very unique leadoff hitter,” Boone coach Rick Wagner said. “I mean, she does a good job getting on, but she can also hit it out.”
Freshman Jaclyn Jenkins (15-2) pitched a complete-game victory. She allowed three hits (all singles), walked two and struck out five.
“Jaclyn’s Jaclyn,” Wagner said. “She’s one of a kind.”
Jenkins leads the team in numerous categories, including doubles (11), home runs (nine) and RBIs (60). Her 15 victories is tied for the team lead with McKenzi Ferguson, who missed some mound duty due to an injury late in the preseason.
“Jaclyn’s been thrown into the fire from the very first part of the year when McKenzi was hurt,” Wagner said, “and she’s done a great job. You know, her physical skills are real good, but what I really like is her mental approach. … She has a good mentality for the game. She’s gonna do her best every time, and if it’s good, great. And if it’s not, well, she knows she gave it her best shot.”
Jenkins also stayed back and hit an outside pitch hard the other way for an RBI, and Hannah Montoya, Ferguson and Jenna Carmody all delivered hard-hit opposite-field hits.
“I think people are going to try to throw us away a little bit,” Wagner said. “So if we can’t go to right field, we’re just gonna hit ground-balls. … I think right now we are seeing it pretty good.”
Ferguson and Carmody were each 2-for-3 with an RBI. Lady Trailblazers second baseman Meredith Good was 1-for-3 with a run and made a difficult over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right-center to deny Cynthia Henley an RBI single in the sixth.
Kenzie Dixon was 1-for-1 with two walks for Volunteer. Catcher Kellie Kirk singled and scored and reached on an error thanks to a sharply hit ball.
Science Hill 4
The Lady Hilltoppers scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win. Alyssa Loveday’s one-out ground-ball to second base scored Sam Bradley with the winning run.
Vanessa Elliottt and Bradley led off the seventh with walks as hard-throwing D-B freshman starter Marissa Honeycutt missed on eight straight pitches before being relieved by Brianna Patterson.
Science Hill catcher Jordan Rush lined a one-out single to left field on a 3-2 pitch to score Elliott and the score. Ensuing batter Allison Poget reached on an infield single to set the stage for Loveday.
Volunteer scored twice in the top of the first. Makayluh Darnell led off with a single and scored on a wild pitch, and Honeycutt’s RBI double scored Abby Stratton, who’d walked.
Rush walked and courtesy runner Courtney Morelock scored on Casie Gump’s two out single to get Science Hill with 2-1 in the second.
Science Hill trailed 3-1 in the fifth. Hannah Devotie led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Megan Devotie and stole third before scoring on a two-out error.
Lady Hilltoppers coach Jerry Higgins was more relieved than pleased with the victory.
“We didn’t hit it at all,” he said. “Our girls were still promming it. The prom was Saturday night, and that’s all I’ve heard about since we came to the field today to hit. …
“If we play like that tomorrow, they (Boone) will run us out of here. Bottom line. We’ve played them two really competitive games this year. And if we show, it’ll be a great game. If we play like that, we’ll get run out of the field.”
Megan Devotie was 1-for-3, reached safely twice and had a sacrifice bunt for the Lady ‘Toppers. Bradley was 1-for-1 with a line-out and two walks. Rush was 1-for-1 with three walks.
Science Hill starter Emma Martindale allowed three runs in five innings. She struck out three, walked two and gave up six hits.
Elliott pitched two scoreless innings for the victory. She didn’t give up a hit, walked one and struck out one.
Abby Stratton doubled and walked for D-B. Along with the double, Honeycutt walked and drove in two runs, and Madison Kilby was 2-for-4 with a double.
Honeycutt was dominant at times. Her fastball and changeup surely varied some 20 mph, and a strike zone that was fluid for both pitchers didn’t make batters’ tasks any easier.
Honeycutt allowed three hits (one was a bad-hop single) and struck out five in six-plus innings, but six of her eight walks came in her final two innings.