MT. JULIET — Mt. Juliet answered Clarksville two-spot in the top of the fifth inning with two in the bottom half and Alyssa Costley kept the Lady Wildcats at bay the rest of the way in a 4-3 Lady Bear win in the Region 5-AAA tournament opener Monday.
Singles by Kyli Biggs and Costley led to an RBI single by Molly Back and a go-ahead groundout by Makayla Draper.
Costley, a freshman pitching beyond her years, held Clarksville to five hits and no walks while striking out five as the Lady Bears won their fifth elimination game in the last week to improve to 25-14 and punch a trip to Henry County for the region final at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Win or lose, Mt. Juliet will play in Friday’s sectional.
“This is the most resilient team I’ve ever been a part of,” said Brad Rowlett, in his sixth season at Mt. Juliet following 12 at Lebanon and a stint as a Cumberland assistant 20 years ago. The Lady Bears start four freshmen and a few sophomores.
“A lot of times, you get older kids, they have cars, boys,” Rowlett said. “This team, they stay in the moment. They’re peaking at the right time and are playing with a purpose. They just love to play.”
Costley’s only thorn was Peyton Wilson, who hit an RBI single in the first inning an a two-run homer, both to right field, in the fifth.
The Lady Bears came back in the bottom of the first with a single by Tyffany Cargile, a sacrifice by Biggs, an RBI single to center by Costley and a run-scoring double by Back.
Mt. Juliet, which finished with eight hits, loaded the bases in the fourth with one out but failed to score.