CANTON — Cherokee entered the state playoffs with high hopes as Region 4AAAAAAA champion, but the Lady Warriors were eliminated and their season brought to an end last Wednesday night.
Cherokee was swept by Mountain View, 8-7 and 10-5. The Lady Bears’ lineup put pressure on the Lady Warriors from the start, and it was too much for the Lady Warriors (20-11).
“We just had an off night,” Cherokee coach Tonya Carlisle said. “I think, on another night, the whole outcome could have been different.”
Mountain View scored in each of the first four innings of the first game, but a three-run inning from Cherokee in the bottom of the fifth cut Mountain View’s lead to 6-5. Celan Trowers hit solo home runs in each of her first two at-bats for Cherokee, and Skylar Harrelson’s two-run triple in the fifth helped bring energy to the Lady Warriors’ dugout.
After Mountain View added on two more runs in the top of the seventh, Hope Jiles’ two-run homer in the bottom of the frame cut the lead to 8-7 but that was as close as Cherokee could get as Mountain View took the first game.
“(Mountain View is) good, and they definitely have a competitor on the mound,” Carlisle said. “She had that rise ball and a good changeup, and when you have both of those, it can be trouble.”
Mountain View’s offense picked up right where it left off in the second game, scoring multiple runs in each of the first three innings.
Harrelson’s bases-clearing triple highlighted a five-run fourth inning for Cherokee, but Mountain View continued to add on runs and took the second game, eliminating Cherokee. Ahmari Braden hit for the cycle for Mountain View while Sarah Currie picked up both wins for the Lady Bears.
Despite Wednesday night’s outcome, this year’s Cherokee team set new bars for the program.
This year’s Lady Warriors team set new records for batting average (.362), runs scored (232), home runs (21), slugging percentage (.549), on-base percentage (.413) and RBIs (196). Carlisle said this year’s senior class of Jiles, Rebekah Bledsoe, Ashlyn Mickler, Gracie Mixson, Jenna Richman and Jordyn Stanfill will go down as one of the best to ever come through the program not only for their contributions on the field but for the leadership and character displayed off the field.
“They’re Cherokee softball,” Carlisle said. “They’re what it means to be a Cherokee softball player. I told them I enjoyed coming to practice every day with them. They were just a pleasure to work with. I’m more impressed with the kind of people they are than the kind of softball players they are.”
Cherokee won its fourth region championship in program history this season by claiming the Region 4AAAAAAA title. The team set goals for a 20-win season, region championship and a trip to Columbus, in addition to focus on the classroom. Carlisle said it may take time, but her players will realize one day what they accomplished this season.
“I know its hard on them right now,” she said. “They see the other schools in the county making it, and we wish them nothing but the best. To have a special season, you have to have some things go your way, and Wednesday night was just an off night for us. We always set goals for the season, and it didn’t end how we would have liked. I think, when we reflect on this season, it will be a success.”