MURFREESBORO - The Springfield softball team wasn’t nervous or overly excited before its first-ever state tournament appearance, much to the surprise of coach Daniel Owsley.
“They were relaxed the whole time,” he said. “They were treating it just like any other game on the bus ride – it was a little scary. There was no hype.”
The business-like approach worked for the Lady Yellow Jackets, who opened the TSSAA Class AAA state tournament with a 4-2 victory over Hardin County Tuesday afternoon at Starplex.
Owsley said his team isn’t satisfied with just enjoying the attention of being the state tournament newbie.
“They expect to win,” he said. “They’re not happy unless they’re winning. It’s exciting to watch, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
The victory propelled Springfield (36-10) to face Siegel in the winner’s bracket. The game is set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at McKnight Park's Field No. 1.
Springfield took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Elizabeth Funk, who reached on a single, scored on a sacrifice fly by Lily Hunnicutt.
But it was Funk's two-RBI double in the third that proved to be the difference. After Springfield junior Katie Rhodes delivered an RBI single to score Emilee Bundy, Funk ripped her hit down the left-field line to plate Rhodes and Gracie Gentry.
“[The first at-bat] kinda boosted my confidence knowing I could do it, and I just took it from there,” Funk said.
Asmondy pitched a complete game and picked up the win on the mound. She was nearly perfect until Hardin County scored two runs in the top of the seventh. It was Asmondy’s sixth victory of the postseason.
“She’s in the zone,” Owsley said. “These girls believe in her. It’s hard to ride one horse, but we’re going to ride [her] as long as we can.”
The Tigers scored their first run on an RBI groundout from Kailee Channell, and they added a second when Jalyn Cherry reached base on a misplayed fly ball. But Bailey Phillips flew out to Springfield's Ellie Friedmann to end the game.
“It got a little dicey in that last inning,” Owsley said. “I was sweating a little bit. But they refocused and went out there and did what they had to do.”
Hundreds of Springfield students and supporters helped send the team off in style Tuesday morning. The team boarded a charter bus and paraded through town before making the 60-mile trek to Murfreesboro.
“It’ll be a memory those coaches and players never forget,” Springfield athletic director Dustin Wilson said. “Thank you to the firemen, the police and the chamber for helping make our student athletes feel so special.”