Before the start of this season, Sequatchie County softball coach Kelly Somerville noticed something majorly different about her team.
"We were in the cages a month or so before the season started, and the ball was coming off all their bats differently," Somerville said. "I could tell they had more pop in their swings by the speed of the ball and the sound. When the season was canceled last year, the girls really put the work in at home or wherever they could, and you can tell they all worked really hard to make sure they were in the best possible shape they could be for this season."
The Lady Indians have proven the offseason gains were no fluke, posting incredible statistics that show how much progress they've made at the plate after the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of high school spring sports in Tennessee last year. With seven regulars back in the lineup from the team that earned 33 wins and reached the TSSAA Class AA state tournament in 2019, the power numbers are drastically different.
Sequatchie County (25-7) has blasted 52 home runs this season compared to 11 two years ago. Junior outfielder Addy Edgmon leads the state with 15 homers and 69 RBIs. Her older sister Ella Edgmon has nine homers this year and is batting .622.
Even if they don't put the ball over the fence, the Edgmon sisters are effective once on base, having combined for 66 stolen bases. Addy is 26-for-26 on steal attempts, and the junior has a 1.000 fielding percentage as well.
Two years ago, the Edgmons hit one home run apiece. While growing up and getting bigger and stronger has certainly helped, they've also been rewarded for working on their swing technique.
"Getting to play with my younger sister has been really special, and we are embracing every game we get to play together," said Ella, who has signed with Georgia Tech. "She has always had more loft to her swing than I have, so I knew her power would come around.
"For me, I was a line-drive hitter at first and would have a lot of triples, but I have worked on my swing path a lot and now the ball is flying off the bat harder and further than ever before. Our coaches have definitely pushed us, and being able to have this season after last season was taken away has been our biggest motivator to get better."
Power is spread throughout a very experienced lineup with home run potential at every spot.
Senior Jesyca Dennis hit three in a game against Signal Mountain this season and has homered 13 times over her past two full seasons. Junior Megan Hall has hit eight homers this season, while Alexus Ferrell, Jadyn Girdley and Cali Green have combined to reach double digits in home runs.
"What is special about these girls is they have great plate awareness and very high softball IQs," Somerville said. "They aren't going up to the plate trying to swing out of their shoes. They know the strike zone and wait for their pitches. The power they have shown is truly amazing, but they are very well-rounded softball players who aren't just power hitters. They can lay a bunt down when needed to and do their job to score runners."
Both Edgmon sisters and senior leaders Dennis and Green have all hit more homers than they have struck out this season. Addy and Ella both have hit home runs that flew into the parking lot behind the team clubhouse in right field.
With a team batting average above .450 and loads of pop at the plate, the Lady Indians are excited about the postseason and hope to finish it atop Class AA. On Friday, they homered twice as they beat Cumberland County 16-0 in a District 7-AA tournament game, needing only 2 1/2 innings to secure the mercy rule victory.
"These girls are extraordinary," Somerville said. "They have put so much time into this game and are really making the community proud. They have accomplished so much in their time here. We are focused on the end goal and are working every day as hard as we can to get there and achieve that."