REAGAN – Riverside softball coach Mike Box will not have the opportunity to be with his team through the District 15-A tournament, but he put his team in the best position possible.
With the 14-5 victory over Scotts Hill on Tuesday, the Lady Panthers are guaranteed at least the No. 3 seed in the district tournament.
Riverside (18-11) finishes 6-5 in district play with Monday’s cancelled game against Trinity Christian Academy unplayed. That record is third-best behind Adamsville (10-1) and Scotts Hill (7-5) — depending on what the district decides Wednesday about what to do with TCA’s unplayed games against Adamsville and Riverside. Scotts Hill (18-15) will also be a top-three seed with a 7-5 district record.
This was Box’s final game to coach this season as he will be having surgery on a disc in his neck on Thursday.
“I thought about delaying the surgery two weeks to make it through the district tournament, but I know my family didn’t want that and the girls wouldn’t either,” Box said. “I hate that I am going to miss the tournament.
“When they play, these girls can really play. Tonight, they played like they love it.”
Riverside continually put the ball in play against Scotts Hill, accumulating 19 hits.
The offense was sparked in the third inning as Josie Taylor hit a three-run home run to open up a 5-1 lead for the Lady Panthers.
“We came out ready to hit the ball because we wanted revenge,” Taylor said. “It was a meat pitch, and I knew that I needed a base hit with two outs.”
Runs continued from there with four runs in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Shelby Yarbro and Kourtney McKenzie, one scored on an RBI groundout by Bree Linton and one on an error.
“This offense has potential,” Box said. “We can have four or five hits or we can have 13 or 14 hits. This is a young team, so they hit in bunches.”
Riverside scored in every inning but the second.
Linton, McKenzie and Yarbro had three hits each for the Lady Panthers, but all nine batters had at least one hit. Linton had four RBI, and Taylor had three.
“This is a confidence boost going into the district tournament,” Taylor said. “It shows what we are capable of.”
Riverside had a chance to close out the game in the sixth inning with a 13-2 lead, but Scotts Hill got its offense going in the bottom of the inning with three runs.
Lauren Scott scored on an error, and Chelsey Gore and Melanie Alexander had RBI hits. The Lady Lions finished with 11 hits.
Both teams will play on Friday at home in the opening round of the District 15-A tournament.
“I think this team has the potential for a good run in the postseason,” Box said. “We played well in the Hardin County Tournament over the weekend with two good games against Chester County. Good games make you better.”
Michael Odom, 425-9754