Lady Bulldog softball enters postseason with best district finish since 2015


Josh Lovett

Rylee Sieber is one of three underclassmen who has been dominant in the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Bulldogs this year.

As the 2022 regular season has come to a close, the Bearden softball team has earned the number two seed in the district tournament with a 6-4 district record and a 13-7-1 overall record. 

This is the Lady Bulldogs’ highest finish in the district since 2015 when they went to the state tournament. 

With this type of success, one might think they have a group of veteran pitchers helping lead the way, when in reality it is just the opposite. 

This year’s pitching staff consists of two sophomores Rylee Sieber and Lauren Spainhower, one freshman Ransley Greenoe and no upperclassmen.

“Each pitcher brings their own style and strengths to the table for us,” pitching coach Hannah Bruce said. “Lauren has speed and a great curve. 

“Her biggest strength would be being able to keep composure in tough spots. Whether that’s a tough umpire or some mistakes made behind her, she really keeps it together and doesn’t show expression on the mound.

“Rylee also has a great curve. Her strength in the staff is the ability to spin the ball. Instead of hitting spots directly, her ball moves more than others. She also has a great drop.

“Ransley is our rise ball pitcher; she is a great addition to the other two. If we’ve seen a team more than once that Rylee and Lauren have both thrown against, it’s amazing to have Ransley come in with a rise ball to throw everybody off and change things up.”

With Sieber and Spainhower being in the same graduating class, it has allowed the two of them to get close as teammates and know how one another plays.

“Me and Lauren just feed off of each other’s energy,” Sieber said. “Neither of us get down when one of us is doing bad and the other has to come in; we have each other’s backs.

“We’re just growing, me and Lauren will be in the program all four years as pitchers both starting on varsity. We can both grow together so our varsity defense behind us can support us all the way through our high school years.”

Greenoe was sidelined for four weeks of the season with a shoulder injury and has slowly worked her way back into the rotation. After making appearances in a few JV games, she was finally able to return to varsity action for her first varsity start against Hardin Valley in a 4-2 win that clinched the No. 2 seed in the district and a first round bye. Greenoe pitched 4 innings, allowed only 2 runs, and struck out five batters. 

“I feel like varsity shows a lot of love and everyone was really sweet about it and everyone was lenient about it,” Greenoe said. “I did feel like it was really hard trying to come back for that, and it just made everything more nerve-wracking just knowing I hadn’t pitched in a while.”

Another advantage with the trio being so young is that they have more time to develop. Many pitchers won’t see significant playing time until they get a few years into their program and become upperclassmen.

That’s not the case with this group as all three started games in each of their respective freshman seasons, with Spainhower and Sieber getting starts last season and Greenoe getting her first varsity start last week in the previously mentioned game against Hardin Valley.

“They’re already so brilliant and shining as young underclassmen,” Coach Bruce said. “We have them for two years and Ransley for three. 

“This allows us to build for the next three years and consistently be able to work on some weaknesses and work some kinks out. Most highly competitive teams have upperclassman pitchers and I think having highly competitive underclassmen is what makes us stand out from the other teams in the district.”

Both Sieber and Spainhower made the all-district team this season as well as last season, Spainhower threw a perfect game against West last season, and the duo of Sieber and Spainhower threw a combined no hitter Tuesday night in a 7-0 win against Jefferson County. 

The Lady Bulldogs will look to continue their success and make it out of districts for the first time in seven years as they will play the winner of Hardin Valley and Heritage on Thursday night at 8 at Maryville.