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Sports High schools

Lady 'Blazers advance to region championship

May 12th, 2014 8:49 pm by Joe Avento

Rick Wagner's coaching career was just extended by at least two games.

Jaclyn Jenkins' two-run triple highlighted a six-run third inning and Daniel Boone's softball team rolled to an 8-2 victory over visiting Seymour in the Region 1-AAA semifinals Monday night.

Wagner, who announced this would be his last season at Boone, will coach his 31-15 team in Wednesday night's regional championship game, where they will it host Volunteer, which defeated South Doyle 3-1 on Monday night. Both regional finalists qualify for the sectional.

"I was very proud of the way they played today," said Wagner, who admitted to thinking how his career would be finished with a loss. "They're fun to watch. We're playing our best softball right now just when you need to be doing it."

Wagner's players aren't talking about his 12th and final season just yet. They're still concentrating on advancing in the postseason.

"We just mainly talked that this could have been our last game as a group together," said senior pitcher McKenzi Ferguson, who scattered eight hits and struck out five while improving to 21-6.

After escaping a self-induced jam in the top of the third, Boone batted around in the bottom of the inning. Kaylin Conkin's double to the right field fence off of Seymour starter Miranda Duncan started things off. Three consecutive bunts yielded no outs and two runs, and the 'Blazers were in business.

Jenkins then hooked a triple to the right field corner, making it 4-0. Ferguson and Abbey Harrison each added RBI singles before Seymour could get the third out.

"We just kept giving it to them, saying 'Here, bunt again,' " Seymour coach Jess Sterling said. "If I was him, I would have kept bunting too. Our pitchers were hitting spots. They got the outcome they wanted on those bunts. We just didn't make any plays."

Boone's decisive inning was set up when it survived a pair of errors. First, Jenkins dropped a throw at first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt. That put runners on first and second with one out.

Then, after a strikeout, catcher Meredith Good threw the ball over the pitcher's head, allowing the lead runner to get to third.

Ferguson got the third out when center fielder Caroline Wilson made a fine running catch.

Boone put it away half an inning later and scored again in the fourth and fifth to pull ahead 8-0. The Eagles got two runs back in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Danielle Mull and a run-scoring triple by District 2-AAA player of the year Lauren Irwin.

Ferguson pitched out of jams three times. Perhaps her best piece of work was getting Reid Ballard, who was 2 for 2 at the time, to pop up to the catcher with two runners on to end the fifth inning.

"McKenzi, the more she throws, the stronger she gets," Wagner said. "We got her some runs and that really helps."

Seymour out-hit the 'Blazers 8-7, but Boone's four extra-base hits -- three doubles and a triple -- were the difference. Seven different players had Boone's hits.

Irwin and Ballard each had two hits for Seymour, which finished 33-8-1. The two teams had split a pair of games during the regular season.

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