by Rusty Ellis
The Upperman Lady Bees finished off their district tournament run with a 5-2 win over the hosting Macon County Tigerettes on Sunday evening.
Upperman opened the scoring in the first inning, thanks to a Morgan Green bunt that was misplayed and allowed Addison McElhaney to score for the 1-0 lead.
Reece Kimmell was tough on the Macon County lineup early, as she held them scoreless through the first two innings.
Ellie Coley locked in at that point as well though, as she gave the Tigerettes a chance to rally, and in the third inning, they broke through.
Coley knocked an RBI single to left field to tie the game, and then Gianna Holden drew a bases-loaded walk for the 2-1 lead.
The runs seemed to energize Coley, as she put together back-to-back shutdown innings to preserve the lead. Upperman wouldn’t be held down all game however, as they took the lead for good in the fifth inning.
With two outs, a full count and the bases loaded, McElhaney lined a two-run single for a 3-2 lead, giving Kimmell all the run support she would need.
Upperman wasn’t done however, as they tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning on an Abigail Johnson RBI double and a Macie Robbins sacrifice fly to run the lead to 5-2, and Kimmell closed the door on Macon County in the seventh to clinch the district championship.
For head coach Dustin Williams, this is the kind of performance he expected from this team, even early in the season when they had their fair share of misfortune.
“The girls asked me if I thought we would be here after the Smith County game and I told them yes,” Williams said. “I did think we had the ability to get here, but it would take a lot of hard work, effort and energy as a team…they’ve done a great job of improving all year, and I’m just really proud of where we’re at.”
The fifth and sixth inning rallies were ultimately the difference in the game, as Williams says he saw his team’s energy level rise to where it needed to be for a championship game.
“I was just preaching energy, I thought our attitudes were good, but our energy wasn’t,” Williams said. “Nobody in the world should have to get you fired up to play in a district championship, I just wanted us to have better energy…we were able to get some breathing room, and we needed every bit with Macon getting Macy Meador up to end the game.”
Now Upperman will get to host their first region tournament game on Monday, as Page will come to Baxter. It’s quite the difference from last year when the Lady Bees had to go on the road to Lincoln County.
“That’s a two-and-a-half hour drive from Baxter,” Williams said. “You’re leaving early in the afternoon, it’s a nontraditional timeframe to play in…I’m just really proud for the girls that they get to go out and play one more home game in front of the fans.”