The Paris Lady Eagles softball team has been on fire for the second half of the season, both on the road and at home.
After winning their district tournament in Jessieville a week ago, they opened as a top seed against Regional Tournament host Greenland. The growth of game knowledge and talent development in this team from the beginning of the season to their playoff run comes from the leadership of head coach Donald Hart. The focus on fundamentals and trust in the player development process should be noticed by all who have fooled the program.
When it was over, the Lady Eagles were the regional champions and are headed into State Tournament play.
The Greenland game was the key, with the winner advancing and the loser entering the offseason. The Lady Eagles wasted no time, with Sydney Ward starting in the circle, they showed confidence from the start. Paris scored twice in the first, both by stealing home. The smart base running and small ball, slap hits, and well-placed bunts put a signature on this game. Paris finished with 15 hits. Sadie Stark and Hannah Brewton each had two RBIs. The statement was made clear, Paris is ready to face anyone, anywhere, when the Lady Eagles used Ward and Jadyn Hart is a combined no-hitter, 9-0 win in the regional opener.
Up next was Atkins, and the game the Lady Eagles wanted. Ward made no bones about it. She wanted to start against Atkins and make a statement. She pitched six innings, striking out 13, allowing only one run. Paris, however, did not have the hot bats that had been such a factor in previous wins. In the bottom go the 7th inning, facing their final three outs of the game, Jadyn Hart blasted one deep in the game for a triple to lead off the inning. Sadie Stark got her in, and a few batters later, Olivia Henderson, who had played an aggressive third base all day long, was standing on second base. On an infield hit to the shortstop, the throw got by the first basemen and Henderson made a heads up base running decision and rounded third and headed for home, scoring the game-winning run. Paris tool the game 2-1 in walk-off fashion, scoring both in the bottom of the 7th.
The Lady Eagles would now wait to see who they would face in the regional finals later in the day after rain had canceled the opening day of play on Thursday. This is where the pitching depth and ability to move defensive pieces around benefit the Eagles. They would need no pep talk. They would face rival Charleston, who they split regular season games with, for the regional title. Jadyn Hart would start the game pitching, but her first inning three-run blast set the tone for the game. They put up four more in the 3rd, and Hart and Ward combined for 14 strikeouts in a 7-1 regional championship game. Lexy Lee had three hits and Ward added two RBIs.
Coach Donald Hart and the Lady Eagles now have 26 wins on the season and will have a top seed in the state tournament this week. Smackover will be the host, so the Lady Eagles, who have been resilient on the road, will have a 230 mile, four-hour drive for their championship run.