If it really is David against Goliath, then the little person is still doing OK.

When visiting Abingdon — with an enrollment of 975 — takes on Tazewell — enrollment, 652 — today for the Southwest District softball tournament championship, the Lady Bulldogs (15-7) will look for their third win in four meetings over the Falcons (17-5).

It has taken a pair of nail-biting regular season games, a playoff contest at Richlands, and now a tournament win apiece for these two teams to earn yet another shot at each other.

Several volleys have been fired by the Tazewell infield, including catcher Sydnei Lester, first baseman Katelyn Mitchell, second baseman Leah Patterson, shortstop Kelsey Sutherland, and third baseman Natalie Parsons.

Samantha Boothe has alternated at short from her customary left field spot and Parsons often moves over to pitch late in games, sometimes switching spots with Keisha Barton.

“In fast-pitch softball, at least on the high school level, there really is a lot of action on the infield,” says Parsons. “Outfielders always have to be ready and there are usually some big plays made by outfielders in games but the majority of what happens goes on around the bases.”

When the Falcons, coached by Jason Delp, beat Tazewell 3-1 in early April, catcher Debbie Proulex and third baseman Kayla Stewart scored two big runs.

Barton, Lester, and Parsons were keys in the Bulldogs’ 7-3 win a month later, and to underscore the importance of the outfielders, it was center fielder and fleet-footed leadoff hitter Iesha Mountain with three hits, three runs, and three stolen bases who ignited the victory.

Jenna Duty is another outfielder who can run and had a four-hit game recently.

In the 3-2 nail-biting win played on the neutral field at Richlands that sealed the SWD regular season title, Sutherland had the game-winning run batted in, yet once again an outfielder — Lindsey Scribner — scored two runs to help pace the win.

Nothing succeeds like team work.

“We are a team — I don’t care about getting my name out front,” agrees Scribner. “Our record is something we all contribute to.”

Parsons, who came in to get the district title save, believes that, too.

“One reason we have had success is that we don’t care who does what. I don’t think anybody really knows who got the winning run or the big hit or best play in the field until we read it in the paper the next day. All we care about is doing whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Keene adds, “Everybody on this team, or anybody who knows me — knows that I don’t worry about numbers, except the ones on the scoreboard.

“All I ever say is I want us to keep getting better and stay focused. It’s my job in practice to get the players ready and my job on game day to make certain we do our jobs. Whatever we do, we do together. It has to be that way.”

Tazewell has done it in many ways, including at the plate, including Sutherland, who is one of the SWD’s top athletes.

“I like to hit hard and sometimes get the ball down the line. Coach (Keene) works on that in practice with me. Those are hard ones to catch, but I’ll take the ball up the middle if that is available.

“I don’t want to get into a pattern — just keep moving runners along.”

Patterson is the steady piece of the infield puzzle, a player who reads the pitches to set her own fielding position and someone the others count on to be their constant.

“I try to stay focused,” she says. “Katelyn (Mitchell) and I have played so close for so long sometimes we just know where the other one is going to be. She is such a great fielder I know she will make the play.

“I wish I could say I have a certain way to throw to first, but honestly I just try to get the ball over there before the runner gets to the base.”

Barton, alternating at third and pitcher, says practice-practice-practice is necessary for hitting or fielding.

She notes, “Making the transition from pitching underhand to throwing from third base overhand all the way across the diamond is something you just have to practice enough so that you don’t even have to think about it.

“Hitting? Keep your eye on the ball and run as fast as you can! As for teamwork, for us it’s huge – whatever good things we have done is because we have done it together.”

Assistant coach Cherith Southworth says, “I am so proud of our whole team. I work a lot with the pitchers, and for those who make the transition from a position to the pitcher’s mound, I think they really appreciate how important their fielders are and try just that much harder to do well for everyone else.”

Note: Look for an additional feature on the Lady Bulldogs later this week.

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