These days in Bluff City, Sullivan East is enjoying similar performances from the Smash Sisters.
Through Thursday, softball sluggers Chelsea Sams and Kylee Wolfe had combined for 30 home runs, 109 RBIs and 83 runs scored and both were hitting .500 or better.
“They are amazing players,” said coach Michael Forrester. “And it’s not by accident. These two have spent countless hours working to be as good as they are.”
Sams is coming off a game to remember against Sullivan Central on Thursday. Not only did she hit two grand slams and total nine RBIs, she tied Madeline Stanbridge’s school record for single-season homers by moving her total to 16.
Wolfe is right behind her after homering Thursday to push her total to 14 for the season. Sams said there isn’t a home run competition between her and Wolfe.
“Not really,” she said. “We’re both just trying to break the record.”
Wolfe said she doesn’t strive to hit homers.
“Every time I go up to hit, I’m just trying to get base hits and the home runs will come,” Wolfe said. “I just try to be patient in the box and hit my pitch and not the pitcher’s pitch.”
Sams said she and Wolfe aren’t on an island. Their teammates have played roles in the duo’s success.
“When me and Kylee are having an off day, the team really maintains the energy and gets the hits we need,” Sams said.
In particular, Wolfe said, Katelyne Loudy has been an integral part of the equation, especially the lofty RBI totals.
“Katelyne can always find her way on base,” Wolfe said. “Me and Chelsea just have to do our job and hit her in.”
One of the spoils of home run victory is rounding third and running to home plate for a sea of congratulatory pats on the helmet and back. Having done it 16 times, Sams said she hopes to experience it again.
“It’s a feeling that never gets old,” she said.
East (19-11 overall) finished second to a strong Unicoi County squad in the Three Rivers Conference. But both players said reaching the state tournament is a reasonable and reachable goal.
“We definitely have all the pieces to the puzzle to go to state,” Sams said.
Added Wolfe, “We just need to have fun and play to the best of our abilities.”
Certainly the home runs have earned notoriety for the players, but it’s not their only strong suit. Wolfe pitches and plays third base. Sams plays whichever position is open depending on who is pitching: third base, shortstop or center field.
“Their hitting gets the attention, and it should, but they are also tremendous defensive players,” Forrester said. “Sams is really a catcher, but we need her in the field.”
Forrester said neither girl lacks motivation.
“Kylee has a competitive drive that is hard to match,” he said. “She lives for the big moments. Chelsea is a straight-A student. She works just as hard at academics as she does at softball. I have written these girls into the lineup for four years. It’s going to be tough when I can’t do that anymore. I have a group of five seniors I will miss tremendously after this season.”
Both Sams and Wolfe will play at the next level. Sams has signed with King, and Wolfe is headed to Chattanooga State, where she will stay on the field for the game she enjoys.
“I like absolutely everything about softball,” Wolfe said.