By Ryan Storz
It was fitting that Tianna Stockley ended the game for Sullivan on Friday night, sending the Lady Eagles home with a 10-0 win and, most importantly, the team’s fourth straight district championship.
Described by her head coach Ashley Crump as “instinctual” and one of the best all-around players she has seen, Stockley crushed a 3-2 pitch from Hannah Clemons so far over the fence in right field that Borgia fielders did not even need to watch.
They just knew.
In four of Crump’s five seasons as head coach of the Lady Eagles, Sullivan has won the district crown.
For the third straight year, Sullivan put an exclamation point on the tournament by providing fireworks in the form of home runs.
Two years ago, it was Laramee Light delivering a big blow to the team’s familiar foe Clemons on a rainy championship night.
Last year, Brianna Lore gave Sullivan all the runs needed when she hit a grand slam against Union.
And then it was Stockley’s turn on Friday night, as she capped off the District 9 tournament with the game-winning shot to mercifully end it.
Sullivan was just the sharper team, likely envied by Clemons, who watched her defense fall apart behind her.
Sullivan made smart plays and rarely beat themselves, something their district opponents simply could not do.
With a rare opportunity to score off Lore, Borgia instead wasted it in the first inning. Cali Witte came to the plate with runners on first and second and just one out. Lore had walked Clemons in the previous at bat.
Witte lined a ball to Stockley at shortstop. Taylor Nadler, who was at second, was caught too far off the base and Stockley easily flipped to Harli Wheeler for the 6-4 double play.
Sullivan quickly went to work when they came to bat in the first inning. Stockley drew a walk, then Lore flared a single to right field. Stockley had waited to see if the ball would drop and was still hovering close to first base. She broke for second and reached easily after Amber Blumenfeld threw the ball away on the attempted force out. It was a sign of things to come.
After a sacrifice bunt by Sarah Messex, Emmie Blankenship ripped a two-run double to give Sullivan a 2-0 lead.
Marissa Messex, who homered in Thursday night’s victory, hit a ground-rule double to put Sullivan ahead 3-0.
Sullivan added on with another run in the third inning on a double by Sarah Messex to score Kelsey Hedges, courtesy running for Lore.
The game was getting perilously out of hand in the fourth inning, when Wheeler reached on an error at second base and Clemons walked Stockley. The pair then pulled off a double steal and Wheeler would come in to score on another error at second base.
Demonstrating the sort of heads-up play that other teams are sorely lacking, Stockley tagged up on a pop out by Sarah Messex caught in foul territory near the first base bag. Stockley scored without any problems to give Sullivan a 6-0 lead.
Blankenship singled to score Hedges a batter later and put Sullivan ahead 7-0.
Sullivan made sure the game never saw another inning, as they plated the mercy runs on the strength of Stockley’s bat.