HENDERSONVILLE — Beech softball is back in the District 9AAA Championship for the first time since 2018.

Their 6-1 rubber match victory over Lebanon in the if-necessary game also secures a spot in the upcoming Region 5AAA Tournament.

“Making it to regions is a good step; we can build on this,” Beech head coach Kristi Utley said.

The Lady Bucs routinely throw freshman Brianne Faulk, and the righty has done an excellent job carrying Beech through not only the district tournament but the season as a whole.

On Wednesday, Utley elected to roll with Sami O’Neil in the circle.

“I was a little nervous, but I’m proud of myself for coming through for the team. I threw a lot of inside pitches to jam up their big bats.”

O’Neal delivered 63 pitches in four complete innings of working, surrendering five hits, one run and striking out two.

Junior Keleigh Midgett closed out the game throwing three complete innings, surrendering one hit and one walk.

“After last night, we knew we could play better than we showed (Tuesday),” Midgett said. “They saw me for an inning on Tuesday, but I was confident I could throw them off their game.”

Utley adds the pitching staff gave the rest of the team confidence they would get the job done.

“Sami came in and helped us by controlling them the first few innings. Then, Kayleigh came in and helped get the job done. They both did a good job,” she said.

Defensively, Beech answered the call. Utley’s defense was as sound as the offense, whether scooping dirt balls in the infield or making the proper read in the outfield on fly balls.

“Overall, I’m just really proud of the girls; they did a good job,” she said.

Beech broke loose a scoreless contest in the bottom of the second inning when Kaitlyn Graham cleared the bases on a shot to center field, scoring Briley Johnson, Brinn Fathauer and Ella Bishop for the 3-0 advantage.

Lebanon had a chance to cut into their deficit with the bases loaded, but a fielder’s choice out stopped any Devilettes momentum from building.

Utley’s crew tacked on two more runs in the home half of the third inning, scoring Sara Brogdon and Keyleigh Midgett on a sacrifice fly and fielder’s choice out.

Leading 5-0, Ella Bishop put the finishing touches on the game with a solo home run to center field.

Beech tallied six hits on the day, including Ella Bishop, who finished 2-for-3 with one RBI, one walk and one home run.

“We knew we had this,” said Midgett.

Beech will move on to the District 9-AAA Championship game, where they will take on Station Camp at 7 p.m. at Drakes Creek Park Field 5. All District ceremonies will take place at 6:30 p.m.

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