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Chiefland senior Takiya London could feel this one coming.
The MaxPreps All-American and Miracle Sports 1A Florida Player of the Year has seen the softballs flying over the fence at practice as the club’s bats heat up.
The dam burst in Williston last Thursday, as London, fellow senior Lauren Parker and sophomore Macie Thomas each launched out-of-the-park home runs in a 17-0 win over the Red Devils.
“Batting practice has been going better, we’re always hitting them over the fence,” London said. “It’s working in practice, so I can tell it’s going to start working in games.”
Parker kicked off the long-ball feast in the top of the fourth, after the Lady Indians enjoyed a 6-0 advantage on the strength of a six-run third frame that included doubles by London and senior Sam Rolfe and a trio of singles from Sydney Parks, Emily Hallman and Erika Gilliam.
Parker’s solo shot veered just right of the center-field foul pole, and was followed by consecutive base hits from London, Rolfe and Gilliam. With two outs, Thomas bookended Parker’s blast with a three-run stroke over the center-field fence to give CMHS a 11-0 lead.
In the fifth, Chiefland, sparked by a leadoff single from Parks, batted around the lineup for the third time in the game. Hallman came within inches of claiming the team’s third homer of the night – and her second in eight days – as she clanked a two-run double off the center-field fence. London then picked up Hallman with a two-run home run, a low-flying pull-shot over left field.
An RBI double by Thomas and singles by Rolfe, junior Karlie Meeks and Parks rounded out Chiefland eye-popping offensive production for the night.
Rolfe finished 3 for 3 with three runs scored, while London went 3 for 4 with four RBIs, three runs. Parks joined the three-hit brigade in going 3 for 5 with a pair of RBIs and a couple of runs.
Thomas collected four RBIs and two runs on her 2-for-4 night. Gilliam (two RBIs) and Hallman also posted 2-for-4 performances with two runs apiece.
Sophomore Kensley Durrance earned her 10th win of the regular season in the circle as she held Williston hitless while surrendering three walks and fanning eight in three innings of work. Junior Taylor Simpson chipped in two innings of relief, allowing two hits and no walks against three strikeouts.
Williston was on the unfortunate end of a lopsided meeting, but the story of its season has been more positive. After finishing with three wins last season, first-year head coach Nick Damiano has led his club to a 10-9 mark coming out of the Chiefland game. With three sixth-grade starters and five more freshman starters, Damiano says his club is taking a patient outlook.
“That’s a great team, three-time defending state champions, we know that,” Damiano said. “But we’ve taught our team, if you beat yourself, that’s one thing, but if a team’s hot – I don’t think any fence would have stopped them. It was unbelievable.”
The Red Devils were celebrating senior night with just one senior, Sarah Todd, whose base hit in the fifth thrilled her head coach.
“That made my night,” Damiano said. “She got her hit, that was awesome.”
Chiefland, which sat at 12-5 overall before its game at Branford on Tuesday, plays host to Dixie County Thursday before going on the road Friday April 14 for a rivalry showdown with Trenton. The Indians’ only district loss came at the hands of the Tigers earlier this season.
The Lady Indians play Williston again Monday April 17 in Chiefland.
Lady Indians reflect on home runs at WMHS
It took the Chiefland softball team 11 games to hit its second home run of the season, and 12 games to hit its first over the fence.
Three games later, the team had more than doubled its long-ball output, as a trio of Lady Indians hit balls out of the park last Thursday in Williston.
It was the first home run of the season for each of the three, which included seniors Lauren Parker and Takiya London and sophomore Macie Thomas.
It marked the 34th overall in softball for London, but the execution of her latest remained a mystery to the shortstop. The senior dug low to pull a low liner to left to score herself and Emily Hallman, who nearly joined the trio earlier when she hit the fence in the air for a double.
“I don’t even know how I hit that one, it was on the ground,” said London, adding that she was worried her hitting coach wouldn’t approve of her pitch selection.
It was a redeeming moment for Parker, who delivered the first homer of the bunch with a solo shot to centerfield in the fifth. The senior utility player had boasted to a close friend earlier that day that she would deliver a home run, but she started the game 0 for 2.
“I was talking all big and bad before the game that I was going to hit a home run, and I was getting really aggravated with myself because I popped out and I got on by an error with my first hit,” said Parker, who estimated she’s hit around half a dozen home runs between high school and travel ball play. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, they’re going to mess with me.’
“So the first thing I said when I walked out to hit was I’m going to hit this ball, and I guess it just kind of happened.”
The third slugger of the tro, sophomore Macie Thomas, who was enjoying her first career home run in high school, was also looking to bounce back from what was a hitless performance up to that point.
“I knew I needed to get up there and hit one and redeem myself,” she said.
Thomas said the group of six seniors on the team that have won three state titles provide a good example to follow.
“I really look up to them because they know how to win,” the sophomore first baseman said. “They always give me advice on everything.”
Parker said she’s noticed the urgency pick up for the club, which lost just one game all of last season.
"We were playing around before games and we had a really serious talk after our loss against Trenton, and I think that hit us hard,” she said. “We needed to get our heads in the game, because I know personally, I wasn’t, and ever since then I’ve gotten a lot better.”