BY JIM STEELE
DRESDEN (May 20) – There is some disagreement whether or not Dresden’s Lady Lions have ever been to the softball state tournament before.
It depends on how you look at it.
In 1990, the Dresden Lady Lions won the regional championship. In those days only four teams made it to the double-elimination round, but the regional champions qualified for a single-elimination state quarterfinal game. Dresden was one of those eight teams and it ventured to Memphis for a meeting with Skyview Academy … and lost in a close game.
In 2022, this would have been considered a sectional game, but not back in 1990. Either way. It’s been a long time since Dresden experienced this kind of success in softball.
This year, Dresden is 15-6 and Region 7A champion. The Lady Lions topped Peabody and perennial DHS nemesis Halls to reach substate. Then Dresden’s substate opponent forfeited, giving the Lady Lions a walkover to Murfreesboro.
It may not be the way head coach Jennifer Brooks wanted it, but she feels good about her team’s attitude heading to state.
“We have a solid team,” she said., “We have consistency, and the girls know I’m going to be here. They give me 100 percent.”
Dresden had a bit of turnover in its softball program, but Brooks said she’d be a mainstay there and that’s paid dividends.
Sophomore pitcher Eva Stafford has produced for Dresden this year. She has 214 strikeouts this year. Seven of her starters are hitting at least .429.
“I work with the defense and our assistant coach Jerry Gallimore works with the hitters,” Brooks said. “It seems like it’s someone different for us every game stepping up.”
Stafford, Allie Spaulding, Annika Jolley are hitting well, says Brooks. Maggie Oliver is hitting above. 450.
“Paisley Pittman was injured, but has come back strong, ” Brooks said. “She plays first for us. She’s tall, has good hands and can stretch.”
The seeds for this year’s success were planted a year ago. They took part in a camp that simulated a college workout at UT Martin.
“We were exposed to what it would be like at a college practice,” Brooks said.
In preparation for the tournament, the Lady Lions worked on fielding, and they emphasized hitting.
“The pitching up there is going to be better than what we’ve seen,” the coach said.
Win, lose or draw at state, Brooks believes this will be a great experience for her young team. There are only two seniors: Parker Ferrell and Jolley.
“It’s not just one player for us. Everybody plays a role,” Brooks said. “Our girls do what they have to do.”
Tuesday, Dresden battled Harriman, 20-3, in the opener of the double-elimination, eight-team event. Dresden, should it win, will play Eagleville (17-8) or Jo Byrns (19-9) 10 a.m. (today) Wednesday. If Dresden loses in the opener, it will face the Eagleville-Jo Byrns loser 10 a.m. (today) Wednesday. The championship will be played 2 p.m. Friday.