Special to the Times-Tribune
Coach Shane Brewer and his Lady Her-I-Canes finished their 2012 season on a winning note by winning two of their last three tournaments.
On Oct. 27, the Her-I-Canes played in the Greater Knoxville Fastpitch Invitational One Day Blowout Tournament and took home the first place hardware.
“We played some outstanding teams in this tournament,” Brewer said. “Going into the tournament I really felt that the team to beat was the Virginia Select and of course, we were paired with them in the first game. They were mostly older girls who move up next year. We are one of the younger teams still traveling and I hoped the girls would not be intimidated but I wanted to test their metal. We played to a 2-2 tie and I thought ‘hey we may be on to something here.’”
After pool play, the same two teams would face each other two more times to settle the matter. In the second matchup, the Her-I-Canes won 6-5 and it was at this point that Brewer knew his team had arrived.
“You could see their confidence growing,” he said. “We knew we could play with the best teams out here. I really think we were steadied by our leaders, especially Madison Sechrest. She is one of four girls who will move up in the spring and she brings a lot of intangibles to the table. We have emphasized to her that you have to lead by example and keep the younger girls focused and ready to play. We will really miss each of the four next year.”
In the championship game, the Her-I-Canes made a statement by winning, 13-4, beating the Virginia Select.
“The girls really finished strong and we have been preaching that all year,” Brewer said. “They responded great to the challenge and I had nothing but praise for the girls.”
Leading the team in batting was Becca Riley (.750), Hannah Carson (.714), Kelsey Patton (.625) and Sechrest (.571). The team’s batting average was a solid .482. The Her-I-Canes outscored their opponents 34-11 during the process.
“As you can see we were good both offensively and defensively,” Brewer said. “Payten and Emilee were outstanding on the mound. I really like the way we played as a team.”
As evidence of the improvement at the plate, Brewer pointed out that five girls have hit out of the park homeruns this year — Madison Sechrest, Lexi Gibson, Hannah Carson (grand slam), Brianna Houston and Becca Riley.
The Her-I-Canes traveled to Knoxville Nov. 3 and captured second place in the 2012 Fountain City Autumn Classic Invitational.
The Her-I-Canes outscored their opponents 32-23, but not in the games that counted. Leading the way offensively was Miller and Gibson, who both hit .667. Riley and Jervis each hit .545.
In the final tournament of the year, the Her-I-Canes traveled to Kingston, Tenn. to capture the First Annual Rampage Showcase Tournament.
“We made a point of reminding the girls what can happen when you lose focus,” Brewer said. “They responded to the challenge. Kelsey Patton led the team in hitting at .556. She has really come to play lately. She has all kinds of potential. We want her to be more aggressive and let everyone see how good she can be.
“Lexi Gibson also hit well at .545 and Brianna Houston, Kenzie Jervis and Olivia Miller each hit .444,” he added. “I also want to give kudos to Leslie Dixon, who played with us for the last part of the season. She is a hard-nosed player. She hit .517 and with her speed she adds a little fire to the mix.”
For the year, the Her-I-Canes outscored their opponents in 59 games, 456-199.