Lexington softball reaches state tournament despite sick players

LEXINGTON — There doesn’t seem to be anyone or anything that can stop the Lexington softball team from winning.

That was evident on Friday when the Lady Tigers beat Creek Wood 4-2 in the Class 3A section to advance to the TSSAA State Tournament despite the illness of five of their starters.

Senior pitcher Cadey McDaniel, a Dyersburg State signee with a 30-1 record and 1.31 ERA entering the game, appeared to be struggling the most with his illness and was visibly ill.

Despite how she felt and struggled in the circle (seven innings pitched, one strikeout, seven hits and two runs allowed), she was determined not to get out of the game.

“I almost threw up in the second set, but I definitely threw up after the game. We don’t really know (what makes them sick),” McDaniel said. “I just used being sick as motivation. … I wasn’t getting out of this game – not if I could help it.”

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The other four sick players were juniors Summer Foley and Mykenzi Duke, and seniors Kyrsten Brown and Kennedy Brown. The bottom three are the Tigers’ first three hitters in the lineup.

Moments after Lexington (45-1) recorded the final, Lexington coach Blake Burke could be seen sporting a sheepish smile as the team celebrated.

“Well, when my starting pitcher (McDaniel) went to the dugout and he was throwing up after the second inning and he was throwing up, I was kind of nervous from that point on,” said Burke. “They just gutted it and dug it as deep as they could to win a baseball game.

“With Cadey being sick, I just told him not to walk anybody. Throw him in there and let your defense knock you out of your sleeves. I don’t know how many strikeouts the Brown twins (Kyrsten and Kennedy) had but that’s it. half of the outs we recorded were over.”

Duke, an Austin Peay .463 batting commitment with a team-record 20 homers, went 2-3 with a double and three RBIs. Burke said his game play was key to the win.

“She takes a ball that looked like it was coming out of home plate and she runs it over the second baseman’s head for two runs. It’s just selfless,” Burke said. “She hit 20 home runs, she very easily could have swung for the fence. … That was the difference in the ball game.”

Lexington entered the game as MaxPreps’ No. 13 ranked team in the nation and will now enter the state tournament on a 25-game winning streak.

“As a coach it’s good (to be ranked) and anything but our goal is to win the last game. … We feel like we’re the best team in the state and we want to win the game. last game,” Burke said. “Were we thrilled to win the district and region tournament – yes we were. But it’s a stepping stone that wasn’t our goal to just be the district and region champion, it was just part of the process to get back to where we want to be.”

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