Blount Press Row

Army Strong

Darnell tosses 3-hit shutout for district title

William Blount senior Kasidy Dunn lines up a Farragut delivery during the District 4AAA championship game on Wednesday.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

Farragut — The big guns, the seniors, got right to it.

Kelsey Darnell fanned the first batter Farragut sent to the plate.

Kasidy Dunn cut loose with a strong, smooth throw on a ground ball to short for out two.

After Farragut’s Kelsie Tuggle drew a two-out walk, catcher and tournament most valuable player McKenzie Henry erased her with a pinpoint throw to second when she tried to steal.

William Blount senior Kelsey Darnell fires a pitch to the plate on Wednesday.

“We were so pumped,” Madison Henry said. “We were ready for this game from the beginning.”

Darnell, who leaves for Army basic training when postseason concludes, was pretty much awesome from there.

The 5-foot-2 right-hander limited the Lady Admirals to three singles the rest of the way — no two in the same inning — and William Blount shut out Farragut, 5-0, in the District 4AAA tournament championship game on Wednesday.

William Blount (30-6) next hosts a Region 2 semifinal on Monday.

Her sister, Katie, already on active duty, Darnell said she first considered pursuing an appointment to West Point. When things didn’t work out, the call to serve lessened not one bit.

“I thought if I’m thinking about the Army, I should (enlist),” she said. “It was meant for me.”

Darnell’s performance Wednesday grows only more impressive the closer you look. Farragut boarded only five baserunners on the afternoon, one of the five reaching by error. Darnell needed only four strikeouts to complete the gem, Farragut’s undoing 10 fly ball outs the Lady Governor ace induced.

The Lady Governors celebrate the program’s first district title since the 2011 season.

“She (Darnell) pitched the ball well,” Farragut coach David Moore said. “That’s just part of it. We just weren’t as aggressive as we have been.”

William Blount struck for the only run it would need when Madison Henry reached with a leadoff walk in the fourth. A Brooke McMahan smash pushed her around to third. Kailey Barron beat out a fielder’s choice on an attempted double play, allowing Henry to race to the plate.

Darnell was well and truly in the groove by that point.

“I told her, ‘You look like a champion out there; keep leading us,'” William Blount coach Amanda Leatherwood said.

Chole Payne, Dunn and Madison Henry put three more runs across in the William Blount fifth, McMahan again doing the damage, this time with a two-RBI single. Dunn was hit by a pitch in seventh, later coming around to conclude the scoring.

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