LEBANON, Va. – Lebanon’s Tatum Dye is not the average sophomore.
Last season, Dye started at third base for the Pioneer team that advanced to the Class 2 semifinals.
This past summer she added to her travel ball adventures which began at age seven.
On Tuesday, Dye drove in three runs on three hits as Lebanon took an 11-1 win over the Virginia High Bearcats in the semifinals of the Southwest District tournament. The contest was stopped after five innings.
“It was intimidating at first playing with a group of girls that had already won a state title, but players were welcoming,” said Dye, who is hitting over .430 with three homers. “I was nervous in between games last season, but that goes away after the first pitch.”
The left-handed hitting Dye found her comfort zone in the first inning Tuesday, blasting a home run to center field. She also reached based on a pair of run-scoring singles and a walk.
“This was one of my better games,” Dye said. “After facing different pitchers in travel ball, it’s easier to adjust.”
The Pioneers (14-6) collected a total of 11 hits. Pitcher Morgan Hamm drove in four runs with a three-run home run and double. Leadoff batter Kara Long singled and drove in two runs while Madison Varney supplied a run-scoring single.
Abby Compton converted several tough chances at second base.
That support was more than enough for the powerful Hamm, a Carson-Newman recruit who allowed just four hits.
“We’ve got balance in all areas,” Lebanon coach Dennis Price said. “It took us a little while to get started today, but we started hitting once we began to see the ball better.”
Price said nearly all of his regulars are hitting over .300.
Virginia High was coming off a 6-2 opening round win over Marion. After that game, the softball field at Highland View Elementary was dedicated in honor of Richard Fisher, the father of VHS head coach Vanessa Fisher-Meyers.
“That was a very emotional day,” Meyers said. “We gave Lebanon a good run tonight in the first couple inning, but that’s a great hitting team. This is a tough district.”
Senior leadoff Jada Campbell lined a double and single for VHS while Kyle Garrett singled in a run.
Dye said she uses last year’s 2-1 state semifinal setback to Richlands as motivation.
“It was a fun experience, but that loss still bothers all of us,” Dye said.
Richlands and Lebanon will meet again for the SWD tournament title Thursday at 7 p.m.
Richlands 6, Tazewell 1
After his team dropped a 4-0 decision to Lebanon in Saturday’s SWD playoff, Richlands coach Ronnie Davis had a special practice Monday afternoon.
“We called it The Basics of Hitting,” Davis said.
Lauren Earls aced the class. In Tuesday’s opening game, she reached base three times with a single, line double and walk.
“We started off rough in Monday’s practice, so Coach Davis stopped everything and brought the team together,” said Earls, who also led Richlands basketball team in scoring. “We all came together, regained our focus and went to back to the basics.”
After doing their conditioning exercises for the second time, the Blues went to work.
“Our practice was not going well on offense or defense,” Earls said. “Coach Davis got our attention and it paid off today.”
Richlands finished with eight hits. Mac Osborne was dominant as usual for Richlands in the circle, striking out 12 en route to a two-hitter.
Aly Staten supplied two singles for the Blue Tornado (17-4) while Katlynn Baldwin delivered a two-run triple.
Marie Lynch drove in the lone Tazewell run with a fourth inning homer.
Davis said he was pleased with the response to his impromptu hitting clinic on Monday.
“I had almost a classroom talk with the girls,” Davis said. “We did a better job of looking for and swinging at good pitches, and driving runners in when we had chances. We were relaxed but intense, and we have to keep that approach every game.”