Only three upperclassmen are in the starting lineup for the Lady Rebels. Caroline Jones is the lone senior for them.
Having young starters (plus a slew of eighth graders on the varsity roster) require more patience throughout the the season with some players making rookie mistakes.
However, after a convincing 4-2 win over Arlington, TRA showed growth.
“These young girls have had to grow up quick,” Johnie Sanfratello said after beating a school in the highest classification. “They’ve had a lot between getting J.V. and varsity time.”
“Anytime you can beat a school that’s got 3,000 kids, or whatever they got, and you got 172 kids, you’re doing something right.” He added with a laugh.
Lanie Howe, who earned her eighth win of the season as a freshman, struck out four batters, allowed one error and pitched a complete game.
“I think she dominated that game.” he stated.
In the bottom of the third, Brooke Harrison doubled and freshman Lola Sprenkle’s deep single to center field put the first run on the board. Two plays later, Howe hit a sacrifice fly and jumped to a 2-0 lead.
Neely Grantham advanced home after a single by Allie Willis and Harrison added an insurance run the following inning. TRA was in full control.
Arlington managed to put up two runs in the final two innings off an error from Addie Thorpe and a deep single that cut the lead down.
“I think our girls are learning that they’re better than they thought, but we’ve got to eliminate those mistakes or we’re not going to be able to be as good as we can.” Sanfratello pointed out.
Nevertheless, besides the few mistakes displayed for the Rebels, they played good ball all seven innings over a 13-win team.
“It’s always a battle with them,” Sanfratello mentioned. “It’s doesn’t matter. We could be up eight, they could be up eight, and it’s going to come down to that last out.”
He added: “They are a very well-coached team, and they’re always going to be a good game for us to get ready for the postseason.”
As postseason is quickly approaching, playing high level competition will prepare the girls for the tough teams they will face in May.
“It ain’t going to get easy,” Sanfretello said. “I mean, we know that it’s not going to get easy, but I told them just now that I feel like we’re the best team in this area.”