Tide win softball program’s 1st ever state title
VIENNA — Let the party begin, Seth.
Boone County’s small town and Sherman High School finally has a team state champion to call its own.
Tide alumni, students, and faithful can put Jim Henderson’s softball squad’s first-place trophy proudly next to the individual state track and field, and tennis championships.
After three years of experiencing every feeling but the best one at Jackson Park, the Tide rolled to the Class A championship with an 8-0 six-inning, mercy-rule win over the three-time defending state champion Wheeling Central Maroon Knights.
The performance confirmed Henderson’s suspicions from the beginning of the year until the final out Thursday.
“I knew we were pretty good but I didn’t know how good,” said Henderson after the game. “Now we have reached the pinnacle and that is where we wanted to be.
“It just feels great and this is for everyone in our community. This group of girls is special and I tell them that as often as I can.”
One of those special players, starting pitcher Autumn Thompson, contributed on the mound and the plate as the Tide arrived at the ultimate final destination. The junior lit the fire early with an 1-2-3 top of the first, including two strikeouts, then never let up until she broke down after the game.
She retired the first eight Central batters in order before Ally Davidson reached on a single in the fourth inning. This paired well alongside her 11 strikeouts and three hits allowed in the game.
She then set the tone on offense as the leadoff hitter by drilling the first pitch she saw in the bottom of the first inning over the center-field fence for a 1-0 lead.
Thus, living up to her pre-game speech to the rest of the Tide before the potential title game. “I just told them we have to put it all on the line. We have to do what we worked so hard to get here (to Vienna) for this season,” she said.
Thompson finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
By the time the Knights could get something going, the scoreboard read 6-0 in favor of the Tide. Even then, the light at the end of the Knights’ tunnel was but a pin prick.
Kaitlyn Ferns finally got a Knight baserunner past third after a two-base error by Sherman’s Haylee Clendenin. She could only watch as her teammates failed to bring her home.
“Autumn Thompson was just on and she is a good pitcher and is hard to figure out. I think we maybe only had one of two solid hits off her all game,” said Central head coach Buck Davidson.
“I had to throw all my pitches and work around their good batters with some quality pitches and I didn’t take anything for granted … I just picked it up after being here for the last two years,” said Thompson of her W on the mound. Thompson, though, didn’t do it all on her own. Seniors Katlyn Jenkins and Sydnee Ferrell tacked on runs No. 2 and 3 with hits of their own in the first. Jenkins then raced home on a wild pitch in the third inning for the fourth run.
The duo ended their high school careers with multi-hit games. All Tide players banded together to guarantee a third game wasn’t played on the field.
If Wheeling Central had won the contest, another game would have been needed to decide the classification’s champion. The tournament is double elimination.