DICKSON — As she accepted congratulations, Madison Rozzell permitted a smile to cross her face.
Striking out 13 hitters, she gave Dickson a chance to win.
She helped herself in the batter’s box and on the base paths, too, as Dickson beat Ringling 5-3 Monday at Dickson High School.
Clinging to a 4-1 lead in the third, Rozzell escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam, allowing only Angel Stoker’s RBI walk before notching two strikeouts to end the frame.
She walked off the field with a perfectly stoic expression.
In the top of the fifth, an error plated one run. Ringling’s Whitney Lester hit a swinging bunt that plated Britann McGahey. Kylie Christopher followed with a single, but Rozzell responded with her 11th strikeout.
Observers could deduce nothing watching her exit the circle.
In total, Rozzell struck out eight Ringling hitters looking. She credited the time in the weight room for her success. There were no shortages of instances when she overpowered Ringling hitters with her fastball.
“It played a big role,” Rozzell said of her fastball. “Coach (Tylor) Lampkin’s been putting us in the weight room a lot lately, and that helps us more than anything: having (stronger) legs to pitch.”
Rozzell ended four of the first five innings with a strikeout.
“I think a lot of it is that her pitches move side to side pretty well,” Lampkin said. “She’s pretty good about hitting spots. We tell her to throw, most times, she’s going to throw inside. When you tell her to throw outside, she’s going to hit outside.”
Rozzell’s battery mate, catcher Bryttni Gardner, plays an invaluable role.
“We’ve got all the freedom we want (to call pitches),” Lampkin said. “Gardner may not always like what we’re calling, but she agrees with it and goes with it. She grits up back there, more than anybody we have. She’s been around the game more than anybody on the team, including me and Chelsea Woulfe, my assistant.”
Gardner’s dad’s time as a softball coach is a significant factor.
“She knows the position better than anybody I’ve seen. She frames the ball up well, she knows what pitch should be called and what we’re expecting of her.”
Rozzell made her mark on the base paths, too. She reached on an error to lead off the game, stole second and scored on Jaydn McKenzie’s two-out single.
Rozzell hit a two-run double an inning later. She scored on Bryttni Gardner’s RBI single, which proved to be the game-winning hit.
Rozzell added an infield single in the fourth frame.
“I like hitting lead off because it gives me a chance to steal bases and get around the bases,” Rozzell said.
Added Lampkin, “Kudos to her. She had a great day at the plate.”
Rozzell’s well-rounded performance helped Lampkin win his debut.
“It’s exciting,” Lampkin said. “The girls have been putting a lot of time in this summer, more time than I think that they’ve all said they’ve ever put in before. From lifting weights, to hitting ground balls and hitting.
“It’s big. Ringling’s a tradition-rich softball place. It’s a good win for the program.”