Exeter makes softball history
Team goes furthest ever in district tournament
The Exeter softball team has finished out a 13-9 season with a new accomplishment, having made the district championship game for the first time in history.
In the Class 1, District 5 Tournament, the Lady Tigers topped Verona in the quarterfinals, 11-4, then Miller in the semifinals, 10-0. Having reached the championship for the first time, Exeter unfortunately ran into a buzzsaw Purdy team, the eventual Class 1 State Champion.
Ashley Fly, Exeter softball coach, said what her team accomplished this season was remarkable.
“It’s the first time we have gotten that far since spring district tournaments started in 2014,” she said. “This team is made up of a lot of seniors, and we were one of three conference champions two years ago, so they really wanted to come back and make it to the district championship.
“They had the focus and the drive to do it, and that has set this team apart. They just really wanted it.”
Fly said one of the biggest highlights of the season was the win that made history.
“We had a lot of good things this season, like finishing second in the conference,” she said. “We played some tough competition toward the end of the season and played them close or got big wins. We really peaked at the end of the season, and making it past Miller [in the district semifinals] was something I don’t think many people expected of us, even as the No. 2 seed. They doubted us, so getting that win was a big highlight.”
The Lady Tigers will lose five seniors to graduation — Hailey Mattingly, Izzy Lee, Abbi Caddell, Macy Barrett and Aubrie Graham — but Fly is excited for the next crop to come in.
“We have a good group of eighth-graders coming up, and while we will be young next year, we’ll have the leadership of Aubry Antle and Emma Sorensen to push those younger kids to step up and develop so we can get back to where we were this year,” Fly said. “We’re losing a hard-working group, but we are gaining a hard-working group.”
Fly said she will miss her graduates, as they were key to the Lady Tigers’ success this season.
“I want to shout out all those seniors because they were all a big part of getting us to that championship,” she said.
Stat-wise, Antle led the Lady Tigers on the mound. She posted an ERA of 3.161 with 108 strikeouts, 23 walks and 42 earned runs.
Antle also led at the plate, hitting .672 with 19 singles, 15 doubles, 1 triple and 4 home runs. Caddell hit .508 with 14 singles, 15 doubles and 2 triples. Natalie Crumpler hit .407 with 13 singles, 7 doubles, 1 triple and 1 home run, and Mattingly hit .400 with 12 singles, 6 doubles, 1 triple and 4 home runs.