The Springfield softball team can finally hang a new banner in the school gymnasium.
The Lady Yellow Jackets made program history with a 7-0 win over Summit Friday afternoon in a TSSAA Class AAA sectional, clinching their first-ever trip to the state tournament.
Springfield (35-10) lost in the sectional round in 1991, and the program failed to return to that stage until this season. The 1991 banner provided motivation for this year’s team to take the next step, according to junior shortstop Katie Rhodes.
“That was our motivation to get out of regions,” Rhodes said. “We wanted to prove that we are as good [as other Springfield teams]. We don’t want to be looked down on anymore, because we worked so hard to get here.”
The victory continued coach Daniel Owsley’s turnaround of the program, which went 4-16 in 2012 before he took over in 2013. Springfield didn’t have a winning season from 2004 to 2016.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “The girls worked hard – they deserve it. We started in , and we weren’t very good. But we stayed the course.”
Freshman Brie Asmondy was brilliant on the mound and picked up her fifth win of the postseason. She tossed a complete game, gave up just five hits and walked two Lady Spartans.
“I would think that Brie is like a junior or senior if I were on another team,” Rhodes said. “Nothing really affects her on the mound. For her to be a freshman and bring us this far is so exciting.”
Springfield did nearly all its damage in the bottom of the third, plating six runs during a hit parade. Sarah Nicholson, Emma Asmondy, Emilee Bundy and Brie Asmondy all had RBI base knocks, and Elizabeth Funk and Ellie Friedmann each brought in a run with sacrifice hits.
In the fifth, the Lady Yellow Jackets tacked on an insurance run with another sacrifice fly from Funk that scored Rhodes to make it 7-0. The outburst came on the heels of two region wins in which Springfield scored five combined runs against Mt. Juliet and Wilson Central.
“That’s all on [the players],” Owsley said. “We talked about hitting after the last couple of games. They spent three days in the cage working and trying to get better.”
After Summit starter Lily Kate Richards was tagged for six runs in the third, reliever Taylor Penning pitched the final four frames and surrendered only one run. But Summit managed just five hits.
“We have good bats,” Summit coach Jenny Stevenson said. “That’s one of our strengths. It’s hard to shut us out, and [Brie Asmondy] did.”
The Lady Spartans (27-8) graduate two seniors in outfielder McKinley Jackson and third baseman Kaitlyn Woodside, though Summit will return an experienced lineup in 2020.
“We actually didn’t have any seniors last year, so [Jackson and Woodside] have been our leaders for two seasons,” Stevenson said. “They’ll be greatly missed. I’m hoping next year we’ll fill in their spots and make it to state.”
Springfield will open state tournament play Tuesday afternoon at the Starplex Complex in Murfreesboro.
“I just want to be there,” Owsley said. “There’s no quit in these kids. They’ll fight to the end.”