MURFEESBORO — As a record-breaking home run hitter, it’s understandable that Maci Masters has drawn attention to the 2022 Daniel Boone softball team.
But it was truly a collective effort that pushed the Lady Trailblazers to third place in the TSSAA Class 4A State Softball Tournament.
It was the second-best finish in school history, behind only the state runner-up team in 2012.
The Masters had a monster day with a three-point home run and a grand slam in Friday’s 8-4 win over Wilson Central. That day, she set Tennessee’s single-season record with 25 homers, breaking the record of 23 previously held by Unicoi County’s Tiffany Laughren.
However, Masters was far from the only power hitter in Boone’s lineup. Maryville Heritage used a strategy of pitching around her in the section round. That night, No. 5 spot Savannah Jessee made them pay by smashing a three-run home run after Heritage intentionally walked Masters.
Jessee also provided a massive two-run home run to center field in Saturday’s season finale against Clarksville.
Further underscoring Boone’s power, Kyleigh Bacon netted a decisive two-pointer in Boone’s 9-6 victory over Summit. She nearly had another home run against Springfield, as the ball sailed just under the left field line.
Besides punching power, the Lady ‘Blazers enjoyed throwing depth. Kayleigh Quesinberry started Tuesday’s first-round match and Maggie Hillman started against Summit and in the final game against Clarksville. Rookie Ava Saul threw a three-hitter shutout to beat Springfield, while she, Quesinberry and Suzie Chatman all had big relief innings.
“I think it’s something we have that no one else has,” Jenkins said. “We used them all this week.”
Much like his role as a football coach, Jenkins tried to watch the best matchups. While the team had double-digit hits in several games, Jenkins was most excited about the defensive effort.
When Masters and Camryn Sarvis didn’t have their best days at the plate in the first two games, they were still excellent out in the field at third base and shortstop. Coach’s daughter Josie Jenkins was solid at second base. Additionally, the outfield of Riley Brinn, Brylee Mesusan and Audrey Moorhouse provided big plays when the team needed them most.
“We preach all the time that the defense wins close games,” Coach Jenkins said. “Everyone likes home runs, but it’s more about hitting and catching. When they were having trouble at home plate, they didn’t let it spread to the field.
While Boone played well most of the year, as evidenced by the 30-10 record, Jenkins felt his team peaked at the end of the season.
“We’ve always preached that softball is like a marathon and you want to be good at the end of the year,” Jenkins said. “I thought we played our best softball in the last two weeks of the season in the district tournament, regional tournament, substate and here. We had a loss against Clarksville, but we bounced back well.
Jenkins has coached several sports, including soccer and basketball. While he has fond memories with those teams, there’s no doubt that this squad, which included half a dozen seniors – Jessee, Mesusan, Sarvis, Brinn, Chatman and Hillman – has its own special place.
“This whole group is special to me. They get along so well and we have six seniors who have been through COVID and all that,” Jenkins said. “We got behind the ball eight on the first night, but the kids showed a lot of resilience. They played hard and showed what we are capable of.