September 16, 2021

HCMS Softball’s 4-Time Champs: ‘Teamwork Makes the Dream Work’

The 2020 West Georgia Middle School Softball Champion HCMS Lady Braves (Front L-R): Ally Watkins, Ariauna Brice, Ella Coleman, Haylee Amoson, Kassi Hannah, Makenlie Lasseter, Trinitee Owens, Stephanie Thomaston, Layla Elkins, KeNaria Pless (Back L-R): Coach Dalton Reed, Coach Jasmine Spradlin, Kinley Smith, Maddie Denney, Pamela Vasquez, Sarah Hannah, Emma Lawson, D.J. Caouette, Andi Spradlin, Hannah Henry, Kailey Blair, Coach Kelly Hadley, and Head Coach Trevor Spradlin

(Franklin, GA) — From the doorstep of dynasty, Heard County Middle School softball stepped across the threshold into local softball history last week on Old Field Road in Franklin.

With a 7-1 victory over the Lady Tigers of Temple Thursday, the HCMS softball team claimed an unprecedented fourth straight West Georgia Small School Championship Trophy.

The four straight titles is the longest known streak at HCMS history in any sport.

Head coach Trevor Spradlin was elated at this team’s big win Thursday and the progress made throughout the season especially in the areas of teamwork.

“This team and this group of girls as we’ve talked about all year about are just very special in the way they flow together and the way they just really pull for one another,” Spradlin said after Thursday’s historic middle school title win.

“We talked about being good teammates all year — whether your role is starting pitcher, starting shortstop, starting catcher, or coming into pinch run or even just being on the bench and cheering your teammates on.”

The first year head middle coach says that the leadership shown by his 8th grade class was vital to the team’s success.

“Big kudos to everybody, but I do want to harp on these 8th graders as they were definitely the heart and soul for us a lot of times this year. When Makenlie was playing up on JV, we had Sarah Hannah and Maddie Denney they really stepped up as leaders in practice and it showed. Those three stood out for sure, but everybody did their job,” said Spradlin.

Spradlin is excited that two of the most important pieces of the championship run will be returning next season in 7th grade pitchers Kinley Smith and Ariauna Brice. The righty/lefty combo pitched the bulk of the innings in a season that saw the Lady Braves finish undefeated at 11-0.

“Pitching is really making me happy right now because we’ve got both pitchers returning after really taking some strides forward this year,” added Coach Spradlin.

“I know Coach Hornsby is ready to get them over at the high school but I’m thankful they have one more year with me first. I am super excited for all of our kids tonight.”

Auna Brice took the hill in Thursday’s title game and tossed all six innings to earn the championship game win.

Brice scattered five hits and gave up just one earned run while striking out nine Tiger hitters. Her team leading ERA for the season was just 1.96 with an astounding 50 strikeouts in just five starts and 21.1 innings pitched.

Smith was likewise strong in Wednesday’s strong 12-1 semifinal playoff win over Mt. Zion. Smith gave up only three hits and struck out six while allowing zero earned runs in the four inning contest.

For the season, Smith struck out 33 in just 22 innings and only walked nine hitters in her six starts.

Kailey Blair, Makenlie Lasseter, and Sarah Hannah led the offense in Thursday’s title win with each recording multiple hits. In Wednesday’s semifinal victory, Blair again had a multiple hit effort as did Andi Spradlin, Ella Coleman, and Kassi Hannah.

Blair was a force throughout the season for the Lady Braves and compiled some unreal season statistics. She led the team in hitting with a phenomenal .742 average. She also led the squad in hits (23), runs scored (25), RBIs (19), and steals with 12.

With opposing pitchers avoiding her bat all season long, Lasseter led the team in walks with 19 while batting .632 with 12 RBIs. She led the team in doubles (6), on-base percentage (.829), and extra base hits with seven.

Three other Lady Brave starters finished the season with an average above the .400 line including Brice (.444), D.J. Caouette (.444), and Hannah (.421).

Championship Battery (L-R): Pitcher Ariauna Brice, catcher Makenlie Lasseter, and pitcher Kinley Smith

Kinley Smith had a nice season at the plate with 13 RBIs and 11 runs scored. She also led the team after being hit by a pitch eight times.

Other top run scorers included Kenaria Pless (15), Andi Spradlin (15), Kassi Hannah (12), Maddie Denney (12), Brice (11), Kinley Smith (11), Caouette (10), and Ella Coleman (10).

When asked to sum up the key to the fourth straight championship season at HCMS in one words, Lasseter did not hesitate when she proclaimed that word to be “family.”

“Family. It’s just crazy to see where we came from the beginning of the season to now,” said Lasseter.

“It is an incredible feeling four our school to win a title for four years in a row and for me to be a part of it on the field for the last two years as a player has been amazing. Just the friendship on this team  — there is no drama among us — it’s just really fun.”

During the remarkable four year championship run, HCMS softball boasts a combined record of 47-2.

Coach Spradlin, Ariauna Brice, Makenlie Lasseter, and Kailey Blair were each invited to participate in Monday’s West Georgia Middle School All-Star game doubleheader at John Tanner State Park.

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