A tournament which began with Portland’s stunning upset of No. 2 seed Mt. Juliet came full circle with the Lady Bears beat the No. 7 Lady Panthers twice to take the District 9-AAA title over the weekend.
After outscoring Portland 7-6 Friday night at Vol State, the “if necessary” game was moved to Lebanon on Saturday due to a scheduling conflict and Mt. Juliet completed the sweep with a 5-1 win.
The Lady Bears will bring a 24-14 record into Monday’s 6 p.m. Region 5-AAA opener against visiting Clarksville (23-8) at MJHS.
“We are a young team and we had a game plan the entire year,” Mt. Juliet coach Brad Rowlett said, “We just wanted to keep getting better and build self confidence and positive team chemistry along the way.
“We felt good about our chances coming into the tournament, but the first-round loss was eye-opening to everyone involved. We had two choices. We could feel sorry for ourselves or we could dig deep and continue to work toward our goals.”
Freshman Alyssa Costley, who pitched every inning in the seven-game tournament, capped most valuable player honors with another seven innings Saturday, allowing a run on six hits and no walks while striking out four.
She spotted Portland a run in the bottom of the third inning before Mt. Juliet put up a pair of two-spots in the fifth and sixth frames and one in the seventh. Molly Back had three of the Lady Bears’ 10 hits while Cam Cernuto and Savannah Cole each collected two. Lexi Stafford hit a two-run double while Costley and Zoe Hayes had a hit apiece.
Freshmen Costley and Cernuto were joined by juniors Tyffany Cargile and Kyli Biggs on the all-district team. Stafford, Cargile, Cole and Back were named all-tournament.
“It was a total team effort and the postseason awards definitely proved that point,” Rowlett said. “I’m extremely proud of these girls for the efforts they have put in all season and the hard work paid off. This group has a bright future and with their positive attitude and work habits could do some big things on down the road.”