Four starting freshmen, no seniors on the roster. Safe to say every game at present qualifies as a learning experience for Polk County.
“We might be the youngest team in the state,” said head coach Phillip Miller.
Which made Monday’s 5-4 victory over Patton all the more meaningful for the Wolverines, who pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh to upend Patton in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference game that also served as Polk’s home debut.
Katelynn Arrowood’s single to center brought home Amberlyn Scruggs with the clinching tally, allowing Polk County (2-3, 1-1) to cheer both the victory and the securing of a party. Reviving a Wolverine tradition, Miller has promised to hold a celebration each Monday if the team wins any games in the previous week.
“It may cost me a lot of money,” Miller said. “I hope it does.”
Polk County seemed well on its way to earning that fest early in Monday’s game, building a 4-0 lead against a Patton team that claimed a 6-1 victory in the teams’ first meeting last week.
The Panthers (5-1, 1-1), though, showed why they entered the game unbeaten to date, putting together a three-run rally in the sixth and then tying the game in the seventh. But with the go-ahead run on third and just one out, Polk freshman pitcher Sarah Vitale induced an infield fly from Patton cleanup hitter Cierra Lail and a fly ball to left by Emma Grindstaff that Arrowood tracked down and gloved for the final out, keeping the game deadlocked entering the bottom of the seventh.
Scruggs dropped a single into shallow right to open the inning. Vitale followed with a base hit, and a wild pitch moved Scruggs to third. With one out, Arrowood ripped a base hit up the middle, easily scoring Scruggs.
“That is a great thing for us,” Miller said. “For these freshmen, that’s a great building block.
“I told (assistant coach Ashley Scruggs) that we had more hits in the first inning than we did the entire game against them last time. Everybody hit the ball hard.”
Mia Bradley opened the first with a sharp single to left, with Vitale adding a one-out base hit before Elizabeth Vitale added another single that scored Bradley. An Arrowood grounder allowed Sarah Vitale to score, Chloe Young added another single and Elizabeth Vitale also later scored for a 3-0 Polk lead.
The Wolverines made it 4-0 in the third as Bradley again singled, stole second and scored on a Scruggs single.
Bradley finished 3-for-4, with Scruggs, Arrowood, Elizabeth Vitale and Sarah Vitale each going 2-for-4. Young’s base hit completed Polk’s 12-hit attack.
Sarah Vitale earned the win, striking out nine.
Polk County begins a two-game series with Hendersonville on Tuesday, hosting the Wolverines at 4:30 p.m.
“We’re going to keep growing and hopefully keep growing on the progress we made today,” Miller said. “This is just a great win for us.”