The Nashville Hornettes defeated the Central Lady Cougars 11-1 in six innings to take the Nashville Invitational Tournament title on Saturday. The Hornettes defeated Mt. Vernon, and Herrin to advance to the Championship game. Back Row: Assistant Coach Charlie Heck, Assistant Coach Hannah Yung, Assistant Coach Brock Wuebbles, Josie Woodrome, Whitley Hunter, Olivia Cook, Taylor Rapp, Sophie Heck, Libby Ahlers, Bailey Melton, Hayley Kujawa, Kyleigh Guinzy, Jenna Harris, Addi Gale, Assistant Coach Breanne Pelker, and Head Coach Shaun Renth. Front Row: Joey Lane, Paige Kasten, Mackenzie McFeron, Jordan Stiegman, Brooke Bartling, Brooke Burcham, and Karly Stanowski.
By Brent Huelsmann
A busy week for the Hornettes was capped off with an NIT title as the Hornettes had six games in a five day stretch. Nashville’s record this season is 17-5.
Nashville 12 Carterville 6
Carterville got the jump on the Hornettes in the contest, but could not hold off Nashville as a big sixth inning gave the Hornettes a 12-6 win.
The Hornettes found themselves in a familiar position, down early. Carterville put up five runs in the top of the first, but struggled to add on throughout the game. Nashville would put up three runs of their own in the first inning as Karly Stanowski crushed a three run home run to get the Hornettes back within two.
The score would hold steady until the fourth when the Hornettes tied the game. Jenna Harris singled with one out, and Kyleigh Guinzy brought her home with a two-run shot to tie the game at five.
Carterville would get the lead back with one run in the sixth, but could not hold off the Hornettes. Nashville would put seven runs up in the bottom of the sixth to take advantage. In the seventh, the Lady Lions did not have a comeback left in them as the Hornettes took the game 12-6.
After the game, Coach Shaun Renth talked about the game. “We’re always in the game. We got down 5-0. With our offense, it’s always reachable we think as long as we have outs, we can get back in the game. It was huge for us to get three in the first inning after they get five. It was just a good job. A gutty performance by Jenna today, battled back after giving up, then she only gives up one the rest of the game. Made some huge defensive plays.”
Harris led the way in the circle and at the plate. After giving up five runs in the first inning, Harris settled down and only gave up one run the rest of the way. Harris struck out two and walked one batter. At the plate, Harris finished with three hits, which included a double and a home run. Harris drove in four runs in the win.
McFeron also finished with three hits, drove in a run, stole three bases, and scored two runs. Stanowski finished 1-3 with her lone hit being a three run home run in the first inning. Guinzy finished 2-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Guinzy tied the game in the fourth with a two run home run. Paige Kasten scored two runs, had one hit and walked once in the win. Jordan Stiegman singled and drove in a run for the Hornettes, while Burcham, Libby Ahlers, Sophie Heck, Cook, and Whitley Hunter all scored a run in the win.
Nashville 7 Anna-Jonesboro 5
The Hornettes got revenge on an earlier conference loss as they came back to grab a walk-off win over the Anna-Jonesboro Lady Wildcats on April 18. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Harris crushed a pitch over the wall for a walk-off three run home run to give the Hornettes a 7-5 win. This game was a make-up game. The game was previously scheduled for April 2.
Again the Hornettes found themselves playing from behind as Anna-Jonesboro scored in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. The lead was short-lived as Nashville would tie the game in the bottom half.
The teams were scoreless in the second, but Anna-Jonesboro again took the lead in the third. The Lady Wildcats would go up 2-1 in the third, and add another in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead over the Hornettes.
Nashville would strike back in the bottom of the fourth as three runs cross the plate. The big hit was from Harris who would hit a two-run bomb to give the Hornettes a 4-3 lead over Anna-Jonesboro.
The Lady Wildcats were not done scoring as they pushed two runs across the plate in the sixth and took a 5-4 lead into the final inning of play.
In the seventh, Stanowski walked to lead off the inning. Stiegman would single, and Harris would send everyone home with a three run home run to give the Hornettes a 7-5 win.
Guinzy pitched a complete game for the Hornettes. Guinzy gave up eight hits, five runs, three of which were earned and struck out five to get the win.
Offensively, Harris again led the way as she finished 3-4 with two home runs, and drove in five runs in the win. Heck finished 3-4 in the game as well, with two doubles and a triple. Heck scored a run in the win. Stiegman added two hits, scored two runs, and drove in a run in the win. McFeron notched two hits, scored a run and stole two bases for the Hornettes. Both Guinzy and Ahlers finished the game 2-3. Burcham added one hit and walked in the win. Stanowski did not record a hit, but walked and drove in a run for Nashville.
Pinckneyville 17 Nashville 7
The Hornettes lone hiccup of the week came in a road showdown with the Lady Panthers on April 19. The two teams battled back and forth in the early going, but Pinckneyville pulled away late to grab a 17-7 win in six innings.
Both teams scored early and often in this one as Pinckneyville took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first only to see it evaporate in the second. Nashville would put up three runs of their own to tie the game, but could not keep the Lady Panthers from scoring. Pinckneyville would score one in the second to take the lead back, but again the Hornettes would come back. Nashville scored four in the third to take a 7-4 lead, but an injury to Hornettes pitcher Harris derailed the game.
After Harris left the circle, the Lady Panthers would capitalize scoring eight runs in the third inning to take the lead for good. Pinckneyville led 12-7 at the end of three and would continue to add on from there. The Lady Panthers scored two in the fourth, two in the fifth, and one in the sixth to end the game and defeat the Hornettes in six innings.
Harris started the game in the circle but lasted only two innings due to injury. Harris gave up four hits, four earned runs and struck out two. Guinzy came in in relief in a tough spot and did not find success. Guinzy gave up seven hits, ten runs, nine of which were earned and walked four in an inning and two thirds. Whitley Hunter finished the game for Nashville and gave up three hits, three runs, one earned run, and walked one batter. Coach Renth talked about putting in Guinzy after the game. “It was a tough inning. Jenna had gotten hurt on a ball that came back to her in the second. It was a ground ball back to her. Hit her in the thumb, jammed her thumb. She went out there and tried to throw and it wasn’t going to happen. We had to put Guinzy in there, a tough spot for Kyleigh. She hadn’t warmed up a lot, just real tough for her. It happens.”
Renth went on to talk about the positives. “We told them, we are probably going to see them in the postseason sometime, we know we can play with them, we know we can beat them. We just have to play our game. Let the chips fall where they may.”
Harris was the only Hornettes player with more than one hit as Harris finished the game 2-3 with a double, two runs scored and one RBI. Heck finished with one hit, a triple, and scored two runs in the loss. Stiegman drove in a run and scored a run in the win as she finished 1-2. Guinzy and Ahlers each finished 1-3 with a RBI in the game. Kasten finished with one hit and one run scored for the Hornettes, while Burcham was hit by a pitch and scored a run.
Nashville 9 Mt. Vernon 6
It was an early start for the Hornettes in the NIT as they faced off against Mt. Vernon at 9 am on April 21.
Nashville, the away team on their home field, got the scoring started with a run in the top of the first. It wouldn’t take long for the Lady Rams to strike back, as Mt. Vernon would come back with three runs in the bottom half to take the lead.
The score held until the fourth then the Hornettes took the lead for good. Nashville put three runs up in the top of the fourth.
Nashville would add insurance runs in the fifth. Karly Stanowski would hit a solo shot in the frame to help the Hornettes build a 6-3.
Mt. Vernon would get a run back in the bottom of the fifth, but Nashville came back with two more runs in the sixth.
After the Lady Rams again scored in the bottom of the sixth, the two teams would trade runs in the seventh as the Hornettes picked up a 9-6 win.
Guinzy pitched the entire game in the circle and gave up just four earned runs, six runs overall. Guinzy struck out one batter as she let her defense work behind her.
McFeron led the way with four hits, four steals and three runs scored. Stanowski finished with two hits, one being a home run and two RBIs in the win. Ahlers drove in two runs on two hits, while Burcham doubled twice in the game, drove in a run, and scored twice. Kasten finished 1-3 with two RBis, followed by Stiegman who singled, scored, and drove in a run. Heck finished 2-3 with a run scored, and Harris singled and scored a run in the win. Guinzy finished 1-3 her lone hit being a double.
Nashville 12 Herrin 3
Three first inning runs was all Herrin could manage in this one as the Hornettes moved to the NIT Championship with a 12-3 win over Herrin.
Herrin hit a three run bomb in the first to take a short lived 3-0 lead over the Hornettes. Nashville scored four in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good. Stiegman had the big blast of the frame as she crushed a three-run shot over the wall to give the Hornettes a 4-3 advantage.
The Hornettes added two more in the second as McFeron raced around the bases for a two-run inside the park home run in the second inning to extend the Hornettes lead to 6-3.
Nashville broke the game open in the fourth, as six runs came across the plate. Nashville had just three hits in the inning, but took advantage of four errors by Herrin to push runs across the plate.
The Hornettes would cruise down the stretch as Hunter kept the Herrin bats quiet to move the Hornettes into the NIT Championship. Hunter pitched all seven innings and gave up just five hits. Hunter gave up three first inning runs and struck out six batters.
Stiegman and McFeron led the way in the contest. Stiegman finished 2-3 with three RBIs, a home run, and two runs scored. McFeron notched three hits in the win, scored two runs, drove in two, hit an inside the park home run and stole a base. Heck drove in two run sin the win, on two hits, and scored a run. Burcham added two hits, a run, and a RBI. Ahlers finished 1-3 with a run scored and a RBI. Stanowski finished 1-4 with a RBI, while Harris drove in a run and scored a run. Cook scored the lone other run for Nashville.
Nashville 11 Central 1
It was all Nashville in the NIT Championship game as the Hornettes defeated the Lady Cougars 11-1.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings of play, but the Hornettes finally broke through in the top of the third. Five runs came across the plate in the third, with Stiegman providing the big blast. Stiegman hit her second home run in as many games to put the Hornettes in control.
The score would hold until the Hornettes put the game away in the sixth, as Nashville put up five more runs to take a 10-0 advantage. The Hornettes did most of their damage with two outs as three of the five runs came with two down in the frame. Kasten, Hunter, Heck, Burcham, and Ahlers all scored runs for Nashville in the sixth.
Central would score one in the bottom of the sixth to keep the game going, but it was just delaying the inevitable. The Hornettes put up another run in the seventh when Brooke Bartling doubled off the wall to open the inning and came around to score on a double by Bailey Melton. In the bottom half, the Hornettes closed out the game as they took the NIT Championship 11-1.
Hayley Kujawa got a rare start in the circle and was outstanding. Kujawa pitched all seven innings gave up four hits, one unearned run, and struck out two batters.
Renth went talked about winning the tournament with three different pitchers in the circle. “Pleased with what we had on the mound today. Kyleigh battled this morning. She just battled, kept us in the game, and we were able to score enough runs to outlast them. What can you say about what Whitley and Hayley did today. Whitley gave up that three run homer in the first, but after that pretty much shut them down. Great performance by Hayley there to win us that Championship. I thought the defense was good behind them, and it was a good three team wins today.”
Offensively Stiegman again had a great game as she finished with a team hit three hits, and three RBIs. Stiegman had the big blast in the first inning, a three run home run. McFeron added two hits and scored a run in the win. Overall nine different players had hits for Nashville and nine different players scored run. Melton and Stanowski each finished with one hit and a RBI. Burcham, Ahlers and Bartling all added a hit and a run scored in the win. Josie Woodrome added a hit in her only at-bat of the game, while Guinzy and Hunter each scored a run for the Hornettes.