Silverdale Baptist Academy scuffled through the District 5-A high school softball season a year ago while Arts & Sciences was busy winning the district regular season for the first time in school history.
But two transfers, a freshman pitcher and a healthy Allison Meadows later, SBA's Lady Seahawks look like the team to beat in the district this season. They stand alone at the top of the standings after defeating CSAS 5-1 on Thursday at Warner Park.
Taylor Moran and Linsey Newell are sophomore transfers from Heritage and batted in the Nos. 3 and 4 spots for Silverdale (13-4, 3-0) against CSAS. Moran ended up 2-for-3 with a line-drive double to left-center in the third inning that drove in two runs.
Leadoff batter Meadows, who missed a good portion of last season because of a stab wound, and Sloane Woodard were aboard when Moran doubled. Meadows also singled and scored on Newell's groundout in the fifth.
Elise Pearson was also 2-for-3 with a double. She scored one of the Lady Seahawks' two runs in the sixth.
"We got that two-run double from Taylor early that helped," Silverdale coach Tim Couch said. "We had some kids hit to the opposite side of the field to move runners.
"Elise Pearson hit the ball good today in the six hole. Having Allison and Sloane up front puts some pressure on people, which is what we want to try to do."
Winning pitcher Emily Harkleroad, a freshman right-hander, limited the Lady Patriots to five hits. She walked three and had six strikeouts, and the defense was errorless behind her.
"Our defense has played good," Couch said. "That gives the pitcher confidence that if she gets behind in the count, she can try to make them hit that ground ball, knowing the defense is there."
CSAS (5-4, 3-1) didn't get a runner as far as third base until Victorious Blanton tripled leading off the bottom of the sixth. She scored on Kiara Suttles' sacrifice fly.
"This time last year, if I remember correctly, we had scored close to a hundred runs, and our opponents were under 20," said CSAS coach Kaity Holloway, who started seven seniors Thursday. "This year we've scored 38 so far, and our opponents have scored somewhere right along with us. They're in the 30s as well.
"At this point we're looking for consistency. That's at the plate, in the field, on the bases, every aspect of the game. Until that happens, this is going to be the result."
The teams are scheduled to play again April 21 at Silverdale. Couch said he also expects to see the Lady Patriots some in the postseason.
"When we get to the tournament, that's when it really counts," Couch said. "We want to be playing our best on May 5th vs. April 3rd. Our goal now is to improve. If we can do that, that's moving in the right direction."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.