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Hartselle wins Class 5A State Championship

By Staff
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
MONTGOMERY – Somewhere between an old boot and a blue tractor, the Hartselle Lady Tigers found the motivation they needed.
Hartselle won the 2003 Class 5A State Softball Championship last weekend, beating Gardendale twice for its second consecutive state title and third in four years.
"This is awesome," tournament MVP Sabrina Roberts said following the tournament. "I can't wait to get back next year."
As for the boot, the Lady Tigers found an old, leather boot at Pisgah in the final week of the season in the outfield. The team decided to keep it as a good luck charm, so every team Hartselle beat had its name put on the boot in blue, the color of the state championship trophy.
Following its only loss in the tournament, Hartselle held a team meeting in right field. It just so happens, a blue tractor pulled up and stopped. Thus, the blue tractor meant they were destined to win the blue trophy.
Hartselle won its first two games of the tournament before falling to Gardendale in the winner's bracket semi-finals. The Lady Tigers then beat Benjamin Russell and Gardendale twice for the championship.
Hartselle 4, Gardendale 0
Sabrina Roberts retired 18 of the first 19 batters she faced, and Alison Lyle provided what proved to be the game-winning run in the third inning.
Lyle led off with a double and advanced to third on a bunt by Ashley Jackson. Senior Robin Halbrooks then singled home Lyle for a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, Jessica Lyle hit a two-RBI single, scoring both Halbrooks and Jackson. Anna Byrd also scored on the play due to a throwing error.
Fatigue began to show in the seventh, as Roberts allowed the bases loaded with one out. She then forced two flyouts to win the game.
"Bulldog (Roberts) was tired," head coach Shane Alexander said. "Everybody was, but she managed to dig down and did great for us."
Roberts allowed no runs on three hits and struck out five.
At the plate, Halbrooks went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and a RBI, while Jessica Lyle went 1 for 3 with two RBIs.
Hartselle 5, Gardendale 1
Game 5
Gardendale left seven runners on base, and Hartselle took advantage of fielding blunders to force a deciding game six.
The Rockets jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and put runners on first and second with no outs in the third inning. Starting pitcher J.J. Lawrimore, though, was able to get out of the jam and keep the Lady Tigers close.
In the fifth inning, Hartselle loaded the bases with no outs. Holly Hampton then drew a walk to score Sabrina Roberts. Two outs later, Anna Byrd singled home Sarah Whitlow and Hampton, as Hartselle took a 3-1 lead.
The Lady Tigers added two insurance runs in the seventh, as Byrd singled home Whitlow again, and Jodi Coffey scored on an error.
Lawrimore got the win, while Roberts entered in the sixth. Byrd went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, while Regan Sandlin and Roberts added two hits a piece.
Hartselle 4
Benjamin Russell 0
Twice Benjamin Russell loaded the bases and both times Jessica Lyle got out of the jam.
Lyle got the win with relief help from Sabrina Roberts. Lyle allowed three hits, walked three and struck out nine.
Sophomore Sarah Whitlow, who went 2 for 3, singled home Regan Sandlin twice, once in the fourth and again in the sixth, as Hartselle gained a 2-0 advantage. Whitlow scored in the sixth on a Robin Halbrooks single.
Roberts pushed the final run across by singling home Jessica Lyle.
Both Anna Byrd and Lyle had two hits, while Sandlin went 1 for 4 with two runs scored.
Gardendale 1, Hartselle 0
Game 3
Hartselle was forced into the loser's bracket after falling to
The Rockets scored their lone run in the final inning. With runners at second and third, Sydney Simpson hit a deep fly ball into centerfield, where Sarah Whitlow jumped over the fence to make the catch. Angela Costner scored on the sacrifice fly.
HHS went three and up and three down in every inning except the first and seventh. Anna Byrd was stranded at third in the first inning, while Jessica Barbrey was stranded at second in the seventh.
"They didn't get too down," Alexander said. "They realized the job at hand."
Hartselle 5
Mortimer Jordan 3
Game 2 (8 innings)
It's been said teams have to be a little lucky to win championships.
Hartselle is no different.
The Lady Tigers fell behind 3-0 in the first two innings, but rallied for the win.
Mortimer Jordan committed six errors, the first coming in the sixth inning, allowing the Lady Tigers to get back in the game.
In the sixth, Hartselle scored three, two unearned, to tie the game. Both Anna Byrd and Regan Sandlin scored on errors, while J.J. Lawrimore singled home Jessica Lyle for the other run.
Hartselle added its final two runs of the game in the eighth for the win. Lyle scored on an error, while Jessica Barbrey scored on a fielder's choice.
Lyle started the game but was yanked in the fifth inning in favor of Lawrimore. Lawrimore allowed no hits and walked two batters before giving way to Sabrina Roberts in the eighth.
"We just showed we have the will power to comeback," Lawrimore said. "I knew I had to come in and get the job done."
"J.J. is the complete pitcher," Alexander said. "She did a great job for us. The team didn't quit, either. I mean, they (Mortimer Jordan) are a tremendous team, but this was a great comeback."
Ashley Jackson, Lyle and Lawrimore each had two hits for the Lady Tigers.
Hartselle 4, C. Henderson 0
Game 1
It was a Hartselle four-run second inning and a cloud of dust for Charles Henderson as the Lady Tigers began the tournament with a win.
Sabrina Roberts earned the win, going the complete game, allowing no runs on six hits and striking out five.
Roberts led off the second inning with a double, and Sarah Whitlow followed with a RBI single. Whitlow then scored on an error and pinch runner Jessica Barbrey followed by stealing home. Anna Byrd scored the final run on J.J. Lawrimore's single.