The Lady Hornets got a dominant performance from sophomore Lily Roberts en route to a 2-0 win on Sunday and while Trinity’s (Whitesville) season came to a close, so did Head Coach Jack Melton’s as he has decided to retire.
After a quick first inning, it was Hancock County who got on the board first. Following a one-out walk, sophomore Emalynn Higdon earned the second hit of the game with a two-run home run to left to take the lead.
This was more than enough run support for sophomore Lily Roberts to control the game from the circle. The Lady Raiders offense was struggling heavily through three, as Roberts had kept them hitless while striking out six.
“She’s got a nasty screwball that breaks on the outside part of the plate and we worked on that all week,” Melton said. “It’s hard to replicate [in practice] and it’s got some movement.”
The Lady Hornets tried to capitalize on Roberts efforts in the bottom of the third, but one of the wildest plays of the 2022 season put a halt to that. After Roberts had flown out to center, the runner from first tried to tag up and was caught at second.
Trinity seemed to think the inning was over afterwards, tossing the ball into the circle. Hancock County saw this and tried to score on the misunderstanding, but junior Allie Graham quickly picked up the ball and threw the runner out at the plate for a triple play.
While the play had seemed to light a fire under the Lady Raiders, they weren’t able to take advantage of this momentum offensively. Roberts had kept firing on all cylinders until the top of the seventh, as Trinity got their first hit of the game and tried to put together one last rally.
Facing a 1-2 count, freshman Madison McDaniel got the first hit of the game for Trinity to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Senior Cassidy Morris singled the following at-bat, but Roberts got three straight strikeouts to mute the scoring threat and secure the 2-0 win for Hancock County.
“Sometimes that toughest game in the tournament is that first one,” Wroe said. “We made it tough, but a win is a win. You just try to advance any way you can and you gotta give credit to Whitesville. The last two times we’ve played them this year they battled us.”
Roberts wrapped up the day having thrown all seven innings, allowing no runs on two hits, while striking out 10 en route to the complete-game win. Higdon was the deciding factor offensively, hitting the two-run home run for the only RBIs of the game.
“She did the same thing against them last year in region,” Wroe said. “I think it was a scoreless game and she hit a homer last year against them. She’s been struggling a little bit at the plate, but it was good to see her come out and get a big two-run homer. That was the difference.”
Melton had no complaints about his team’s effort on the day, saying that they played great defense but just couldn’t figure out Roberts offensively. He was also very pleased with Graham’s ability to bounce back from the homer in the circle, as she finished the day allowing just two runs on four hits through six innings.
The Lady Raiders season came to a close with them owning an 18-12 overall, the best season under Melton since taking over in 2017. When asked to talk about his senior class of Morris, Hibbitt and Maddie Logsdon, Melton had nothing but high praise and said that he was going out on top with them.
“They’re awesome,” Melton said. “I’ve had them since they were seventh graders. I mean they’re awesome, so we’re going to ride out together. This is it for me. I’m riding out with the seniors… I couldn’t ask for better seniors. I mean they stuck with it and worked hard for five years.”
As for Melton, that puts a wrap on his five-year tenure with Trinity. Melton wraps up his time with the Lady Raiders with 63 wins under his belt, while leaving the program in good shape for the near future.
“I don’t know, you can just tell it’s that time,” Melton said. “It’s that time. We’ve got a bunch of young ones coming up this year. This is probably the biggest middle school class for softball we’re going to have and all of the other girls will be coming back. Hopefully the older ones will take the young ones under their wing and they’ll keep building on what I started.”