Allison Meadows is eager to play softball again this year, even though it may be a while.
Meadows is the 16-year-old Silverdale Baptist Academy sophomore who was stabbed multiple times at a Target store last Monday in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she was with her parents visiting other family members while she was on spring break. Meadows was released from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh on Thursday and returned home Friday.
At the time spring break arrived, Meadows was batting .563 (9-for-16) and leading the Lady Seahawks in runs scored. Silverdale softball coach Tim Couch said Meadows' well-being is the top priority, but the ordeal has left a void at the top of the lineup and in center field.
"We'll just kind of play with it," Couch said of deciding on who will play in center. "Early in the season is when you want to do that kind of thing. We might go with Sloane Woodard at leadoff, but we have some other options. We'll look at it and see and just go from there."
Doctors in Pittsburgh said the prognosis for Meadows is a full recovery in about four weeks, which is around the time postseason play begins for TSSAA Division I teams.
"She's really anxious to get back out there," Couch said. "We don't want to rush it. I told her, 'Softball is going to be here when you get back.'"
A big salute is in order for Bledsoe County's softball program. Or more precisely, to the American flag donated by local veterans that was proudly displayed at the Lady Warriors' field.
Before Wednesday's home game in Pikeville against neighboring rival Sequatchie County, Bledsoe County for the first time raised a flag on its new flagpole behind the fence in center field. Some former local servicemen stood across in line in center field while Bobby Roberson played the Star-Spangled Banner on bugle.
Ricky and Janice Ritchie, who have coached the Lady Warriors three of the last four years, began working on the flag project when their senior daughter, Lydia, was a freshman. With the help of the Bledsoe County Board of Education, where Janice is employed, and the work by third baseman Mackenzie Smith's father, Danny, the endeavor finally became a reality.
"It was great," Janice Ritchie said. "We've played the national anthem before games before but people just had to hold the flag. It was great to officially play the national anthem and raise a flag at our home field for the first time."
The daily double
Next school year when she joins the golf team at Tennessee Tech, Polk County's Lydia Triplett can only hope she can deliver double-eagles with the regularity she's been delivering doubles in the early part of softball season.
When the Times Free Press ran its area prep statistical leaders in last Friday's edition, Triplett was atop the doubles category with 13. The next-closest players had five.
And good luck catching her. She added one Wednesday against Loudon and hit three more in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader at Alcoa.
"She's just been a doubles machine," her father and Polk County softball coach Bill Triplett said. "She's thinking two coming out of the box. They haven't been cheap either. She's hitting it good. She just doesn't have enough power to hit it out."
Lydia does have one home run this year, but Dad still took the opportunity to provoke her last week from the coach's box during a break in the action with his daughter on third base.
"I told her all she had was warning-track power," he said. "She started punching me."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.