• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

WCMS softball wins middle school state title

For the second year in a row, the Woodford County Middle School softball team captured the ASA Middle School State Championship in Georgetown on Saturday, April 16. In a very long day of competition, Woodford defeated five teams to advance to the championship game, where they scored a 6-4 win over Farristown in a game that lasted almost to midnight. “Our pitching all day was great,” said head coach Nathan Paris. “We used four different pitchers, Elizabeth Edwards, Claire Lehmkuhler, Caroline Marshall and Tatum Wimberly, in the six games. We hit the ball really well all day with two hitters, Lehmkuhler and Olivia Paris, hitting over .600 (in the tournament). The girls played with a determination that they were not going to be denied, and our dugout stayed loud and upbeat all tournament and kept those on the field motivated. “It is a rare thing to win a state championship in middle school because older players transition to the high school in their eighth grade years a lot. WCMS is blessed to have won the state championship two years running now, and I really like the prospects of this team going forward the next two years. There is a lot of young talent on this team for next year with some quality fifth-graders ready for their shot.” Woodford has fielded a very young team this year. The roster is made up of 20 girls, consisting of two eighth graders, seven seventh graders and 11 sixth graders, with the starting nine for the tournament made up of two eighth graders, four seventh graders and three sixth graders. According to Paris, the team was probably the youngest starting nine in the tournament. In the 18-team tournament, Woodford opened with a 13-2 win over Jackson City Middle School, and then followed that with a 13-1 win over Lincoln County Middle School, a 5-0 win over Anderson County Middle School, and a 3-0 win over Marion County Middle School to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, the Lady Tigers defeated Taylor County Middle School, 8-2, to reach the championship game, where they defeated Farristown Middle School 6-4 to take home the title. In the championship game against Farristown, Lehmkuhler got the start and pitched five strong innings for Woodford. But, by the fifth inning, the Lady Flyers had “figured her out,” so Paris brought in Elizabeth Edwards to relieve her and she shut Farristown down and closed out the game in the sixth inning for the 6-4 win. “Offensively we struggled to get the bats started and neither team had scored going into the third inning,” said Paris. “We had a big third inning scoring five runs on six hits, (then) added five more hits … and one more run in the fourth. (After that), we hung on to win in six innings. Farristown was a great team with a lot of talent, but this was our year.” All told, Woodford scored 48 runs and had 39 RBIs and 68 hits in the tournament, and finished with a .476 batting average. While the state tournament is complete, the Lady Tigers still have more games left in the season leading up to the conference tournament, so there is still time for fans to enjoy watching the team play. “We are only half way through our season and we are currently undefeated in conference play,” said Parks. “We have five conference games left and the conference tournament the first week of May. I would encourage everyone to come out to the middle school and catch a game, (because), these girls are playing great softball.”

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