Carlisle’s Lady Bison came up two runs short of reaching the Class 2A State Softball Tournament when they fell to Salem in the opening round of the Class 2A North Regional last week, 3-2.
Salem, the top seed from the 2-2A, improved to 23-2. Carlisle, the fourth seed from the 3-2A, closed 10-15.
“For us, it was all about consistency,” Carlisle coach Lonnie Roberson said. “If we could’ve played like that all year — and we had another game like that with DeWitt where we played them very tough, and of course we played Stuttgart tough.
“Like I told my senior girls at the athletic banquet — those girls left it all on the field, and that’s important. You go out there and if you get run-ruled, you’re upset, but if you fight to the end like that, that’s something you can hang your hat on and something you can build on in your program.
“We’d love to be at the state tournament every year, and I think that’s coming. We’ve got some talented girls we’ve added. We’ll lose a lot of leadership, but they’ve set the bar. The record — I don’t even look at records. What I play for is to get in that playoff, in that tournament race, and play from there.”
Against Salem, the Lady Bison took a 1-0 lead, but the Lady Greyhounds tied the game at 1-1 in the third inning. Carlisle retook the lead when Journey Jennings drove home Emily Merritt. Salem answered, 2-2, and went up 3-2 in the top of the sixth.
“In the bottom of the seventh, we come out and we make contact,” Roberson said. “Haley Hedrick steals second and goes to third on a passed ball. Lauren Lea hits a shot to right field that was caught in the air, and Blakely Ellis, in the 9-hole, hits a shot to left field, but their left fielder makes a phenomenal play. Then we get to the top of the lineup and we go down with a pop fly to the shortstop, and that was it.”
The Lady Bison will graduate Merritt, Hedrick, Maggie McCallie, Madison Bowlan, Ashby Terry, Jennings and Madeline Brown.
But there will be plenty to build on, Roberson said.
“No doubt,” he said. “We’ll have Heather Bowlan, who was all-conference, and Blakely Ellis, who was honorable mention all-conference, back at third base. Freshman Ansley Terry is very talented. The sky’s the limit for her; if she sticks it out in softball, she could go to a smaller college and play.
“Kylie Warren will be back with us next year. She played center field last year and has got a great bat on her. She’s just an athlete. Lauren Lea will be back at second, and (rising juniors) Shea Alberson and Jazmyn McCelyea. And I’ll get a big group of ninth graders next year — eight of them — so that’ll be huge.”
Overall, it was a successful athletic year for all the Lady Bison.
“Basketball went to (the quarterfinals) of state, and softball was a run away from state,” Roberson said. “That’s good for girls athletics.”