Bluejackets’ seniors shine in final home game victory over New Albany

By Noah Dalton

MITCHELL – Mitchell High School celebrated both Senior Night, as well as the official dedication of the new Parker Field on Wednesday in grand fashion, handily beating a strong New Albany squad 7-3.

Senior Night is a big deal for the Bluejackets, particularly this season, where the team features seven senior members. Those being Rylee Brazzell, Gracelynn Payton, Avery Southern, Caitlyn Mullis, Emerie Russell, Malaya Tanglao and Maddie Gerkin.

In their final home game together, the seniors showed out, combining for six of the team’s seven hits, with all six of their RBIs on their way to the win.

Bluejackets players hug on the field following their Senior Night win over New Albany, which will make the final time many of the team’s players will take the field

Mitchell head coach Stevie Canada had high praise for this group of seniors following their win on Wednesday.

“I’d have to go back in history and look, but I’m not so sure that in three years, those seniors don’t have the most wins in the history of Mitchell,” said Canada. “The senior classes, they’re the leaders this year. They’re very good kids, and then a lot of them are going to college to play. They’re going to get good players. Not just good players, but good individual kids. In the classroom, I was telling everybody that the softball team was well represented in awards programs, because all of them got good grades and all that so we’re very proud of them and we’re gonna miss them. This team’s gonna miss them. With everything; leadership, hitting, fielding, pitching, there’s a lot that comes with this senior class, and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Bluejackets found themselves trailing 1-0 as the headed into the third, where they found the bulk of their offense on the night.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Tanglao singled to center field to allow Caitlyn Mullis to score from second, tying the game at a run each. They continued with three straight hits, including back-to-back RBI doubles from Russell, who knocked home two runners and Payton, who batted in one, as well as a run scored by Southern following an error from the Bulldogs to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

Caitlyn Mullis steps away from the batter’s box after a pitch against New Albany

They continued to add to their lead in the bottom of the fourth, scoring two more runs thanks to a double from Southern.

Up by six, Mitchell held New Albany scoreless until the top of the seventh, when the Bulldogs found two runs of their own, but it was not enough to swing the game, as the Bluejackets recorded the final out of the game shortly after.

When all was said and done, it was their strong third inning that propelled Mitchell to victory. After some near misses during their first trip through the batting lineup, Canada said he felt the team was due for a big inning and that check cashed with the five-run third.

“I think that when we came back up to our lineup after the first time, we kind of had the pitchers timing down, kind of knew what we wanted to do,” said Canada. “And there were some girls that really turned on some pitches that just barely missed it. So, we kind of knew that it was coming,” he said.

Mitchell’s Avery Southern throws a pitch against New Albany

With this win, the Bluejackets finish their regular season with a final record of 14-12.

In what has to this point been an up-and-down year, Canada said he is unsure why his team has struggled in some of their matchups, but remains confident in their ability to matchup against anyone when they’re playing their best.

“We’re capable of beating good teams and we’re capable, I mean, because we’re a good team ourselves. But the thing is, we just don’t come fully engaged against some teams, I guess. I don’t know. I really can’t explain it. I don’t understand it either. I really don’t. I just don’t get how we can be some of these teams and lose to others. I just don’t understand that. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, but I mean hopefully we right all the wrongs for sectional,” he said.

The team prepares for the first game of their postseason and what could potentially be the last dance for this senior team on Monday, when they take Linton-Stockton. The matchup is a rematch of the two’s April 3 game, in which Mitchell walked away with the win, 3-1.

“We had them earlier in the year. We beat them earlier in the year, but I also know Linton is going to be ready. Linton’s gotten better since they played us, so we’ll just have to square off and see what happens,” Canada said.

Field dedication

After the game, members of the Mitchell Community Schools board, as well as the Parker Family took the field for the official dedication of Parker Field, following the board’s vote to name the newly renovated field after Gail and Ted Parker.

The Bluejackets, along with members of the Parker family and Mitchell Community Schools board pose with the new sign that will be displayed at the recently named Parker Field

The Parker name is synonymous with softball in the city after the two dedicated much of their lives to volunteering to operate the Mitchell’s softball league.

Ted ran the area’s softball league from 1979 to 2008. He also coached varsity girls softball at MHS from 2004-2008 and played a crucial role in the field’s initial construction.