|Beech softball seniors five for four|
|Friday, May 25, 2012|
MURFEESBORO – Beech softball’s senior class helped put the program in some rare company this season.
As Beech took to the fields at Murfreesboro’s Starplex this week to defend its TSSAA Class AAA championship, it marked the fifth consecutive season the Lady Buccaneers appeared in the state tournament. This year’s senior class of five girls – Alex Banks, Jule Kranz, Kassidy McCoy, Heather Montgomery and Gracie Woodis – helped the program accomplish the feat.
“It’s definitely a huge deal, Banks said. “As a class and as a team we’ve worked hard and God has definitely blessed us with so much talent. We’ve used it to glorify Him and He’s the reason we’re here every year.”
Only Trinity Christian Academy (Class A) and Gibbs (Class AA) have a streak that is currently longer than Beech’s in TSSAA Division I softball. The last time those two programs did not appear at the state tournament was 2004 – ironically the same year Beech won a championship.
“Everyone takes pride in Beech High School,” Banks said. “We want to play well for the name on our jersey. That’s motivation for every single team out here to make it back to the state tournament.”
Only TCA and Soddy-Daisy can rival what Beech has actually accomplished at the state tournament since the start of the 2000s.
TCA was part of five straight title games from 2006-2010 before falling in their first two games last season. Soddy-Daisy was part of five straight title games from 2003-2007 before missing the tournament in 2008. Beech has won three titles since the start of the 2000s (2001, 2004, 2011).
“That’s incredible,” senior Heather Montgomery said. “Teams are happy to make it to the state tournament once. Not only did we make it to the state tournament four years in a row – five when they made it when I was in eighth grade – but we made it to the final game three years in a row. That’s just unheard of. I wouldn’t want to be on any other team.”
Banks set the TSSAA record for wins in a season (47). Montgomery set the TSSAA record for steals (72) and lead the team in runs scored (79).
Jule Kranz lead the team in RBIs (67) and in home runs. She hit 13 of the team’s 45 this season. Those 45 place the Lady Bucs at fourth all time nationally for most home runs in a season, according to NHFS.org records.
“That’s a big opportunity and a blessing to be able to come to the state tournament every year,” Kranz said. “Every year’s been a battle. Some years we come out on top – one year we did – and other years we didn’t. It’s always been a battle; it’s never easy.”
Catcher Kassidy McCoy, a Liberty University signee, lead the team with 77 hits and had 64 RBIs. Fellow senior Gracie Woodis played a reserve role this season, but helped Beech kick start its 2011 title run with a hit and a run scored in a tournament-opening win over Bolton.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors,” said first-year Beech coach Erica Powell. “They know how to win and they want to win badly. They know how to play in pressure situations. They give 100 percent all the time.
“That’s what I hope they teach the underclassmen. Not that it’s important to go to the state tournament or it’s important to win a ring, but it’s important you take the game seriously and give 110 percent and understand that character and effort is so much more important than winning games.”
And the trend looks like it could continue for Beech as a number of freshmen and sophomores have played pivotal roles for the team this season.
“There’s never a rebuilding year at Beech because we put such an emphasis on making our younger players part of the team as freshmen and as sophomores. By the time Peyton and Jordan and them are juniors and seniors there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll get another ring.”
“This freshmen and sophomore class they have so much talent,” Banks added. “They’re just doing awesome and I’m so excited to see them play next year. These underclassmen are workhorses they will work as hard as they can coach Powell pushes them harder than anyone in practice and they get the job done. They’re going to do great things.”
— Corby A. Yarbrough, Sports Editor
Photo by Daniel Burton l THE STANDARD