Three softball teams advance to state tournament

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Belles advance to state tourney
Hartselle's Dixie Belles all-stars (13-to-15-year-old) captured championship honors in the Northwest District Tournament at Underwood Friday night by blasting Muscle Shoals 22-4
The win extended the team's post season record to 4-0 and earned it a berth in the state tournament for the second year in a row. Hartselle is matched against Linden in the opening round of the double elimination tournament beginning July 13.
"It was a great team effort and every player contributed," Hartselle manager Kenneth Romager said. "The players had a good attitude and stayed focused throughout the tournament. It has been a pleasure for me to be around the kids and their parents. I want to thank everyone for their support and contributions."
Meaghan Gray and Breanna Riley, both pitchers, are two members of the 2006 team that won a state championship and finished fourth in the Dixie Belles World Series.
"I'm excited about going back to state," Gray said. "Last year's team was very good and attracted a lot of attention by getting through the competition without a loss. The bar was set high and now we've got a lot to live up to. The competition will step up; every team there will be out to get us. My dream is that we'll be able to step it up to another level and win the world series this time around."
"It means a lot to me personally to have another chance to get back to the world series," Riley said. "I feel like we have the talent on this team to win it all.
"We just have to stay focused and play our game."
Hartselle sent 23 batters to the plate in the bottom of the second inning and put the game out of reach by scoring 16 runs on 16 hits, six of which were doubles.
Ten of the 12 players on the team had two or more hits in the game. They were Riley, Gray, Leah Robinson, Ashley Boner, Chelsea Bennich, Olivia Golden, Katelyn Hill, Abby McHugh, Katie Gentle and Laken Hamilton.
Gray was the winning pitcher. She worked three innings and allowed no runs on no hits while striking out two and walking one. McHugh pitched two inning in relief, allowing four runs on three hits while striking out three and walking one.
Hartselle 10, Underwood 3
Hartselle remained unbeaten and advanced to the final round of district tournament competition on June 28 by eliminating host Underwood 10-3 after falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning.
A single by Romager and walks by Gray and Gentle loaded the bases and set the stage for a four-run rally in the bottom of the first inning. Robinson and Katelyn Hill each followed with two-RBI singles. A run was added in the third inning and a five-run burst in the bottom of the sixth put the game away.
Robinson, Romager and Katelyn Hill each singled twice. In addition, Golden had a triple and Bonner had a two-RBI single.
Riley was the winning pitcher. She went the distance, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out 12 batters and walking one.
Hartselle 6, Muscle Shoals 2
Hartselle scored two runs in the top of the first inning and went on to defeat Muscle Shoals 6-2 and record its second straight win in the third round of the Dixie Belles District Tournament at Underwood on June 26.
Pitcher/infielder Gray sparked the winners with a two-RBI single in the first inning, a lead-off double in a three-run fifth inning rally and knocked down a hard-hit grounder at first base and made the final out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded. She also was the pitcher of record, allowing no runs, no hits, striking out five and walking one in the first three innings. McHugh pitched the next three innings, allowing one run on one hit while striking out three and walking one.
Golden had a leadoff double and Gentle had a single in the first inning.
McHugh tripled as the leadoff batter in the 5th inning, Romager knocked in a run with a single in the sixth inning and Robinson singled in the seventh inning to complete the offense for Hartselle.
Angels headed to State
In a dramatic turnaround, Hartselle's Angels (9/10-year-old) all-stars emerged from the loser's bracket to defeat Underwood twice on Saturday and earn a trip to the State Dixie Softball Tournament in Scottsboro July 6-9.
Hartselle dropped to the loser's bracket after suffering a humiliating 18-1 loss to Underwood in the tournament's opening round on June 26. However, they bounced back by defeating Muscle Shoals 13-3 the following day and earned another shot at Underwood with a 7-4 win over Greenhill on June 28.
Facing elimination with a loss, they rallied to defeat Underwood 7-4 in the first game and came back to post a 2-1 win in the second game.
"It was unbelievable. They did it with excellent offense and good defense," manager Reggie Corum said. "It was a great team effort and the support we had from parents and fans was awesome."
Their confidence level was probably pretty high after they beat us as badly as they did in the first game," Corum said. "That may have worked in our favor. But you can't take anything away from our girls. They came back with a vengeance and played great ball."
"We're excited about playing in the state tournament. It's going to be a lot of fun," Corum added.
Hartselle's Angels are scheduled to play the winner of District 4 in a 6 p.m. game on Friday. They will play again in the double elimination tournament at 9 a.m. on Saturday, win or lose.
Hartselle's Darlings (7/8-year-old) all-stars won the district tournament in 2005 and went on to finish fourth at the state level. All but two of the girls who played on that team are now playing for the Angels all-stars.
The Angels all-stars are Riley Terry, Hannah Jenkins, Callie Garner, Brylee Holder, Jordan Barbrey, Jada Hayes, Sydnee Osborne, Kelly Thrasher, Sydney Crow, Sarah Crow, Autumn Barnette and Morgan Corum.
Darlings are State-bound
Hartselle's Darlings (7/8-year-old) all-stars defeated Greenhill 17-16 on Saturday to claim championship honors in district tournament competition.
They are scheduled to meet an opponent in state tournament play in Scottsboro at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Hartselle, Greenhill and Underwood each reached the final round of the tournament with identical 2-1 records. A drawing was conducted to determine the pairing for the final games. Hartselle received a bye. Subsequently, Greenhill defeated Underwood and advanced to the final game to face Hartselle.
The championship game was tied at 16-all after four regulation innings. Hartselle held its opponents in the top half of the fifth and pushed across the winning run in the bottom half of the inning.
In the opening round of the tournament on June 24, Hartselle suffered a heart-breaking 17-16 loss to Greenhill. Trailing 16-12, Greenhill pushed across five runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning to grab the win.
Hartselle bounced back by defeating Underwood 17-4 in the tournament's second round two days later.
All-star team members are Brooklyn Wallace, Callie Partlow, Gracie Poe, Reagan Martin, Makenzie Parker, Reagan Bowling, Rose Braun, Tori Blaylock, Laninya Wiggins, Megan Zuck, Haley Mitchell and Courtney Blackwood. Their manager is Danny Ikard. Coaches are Tim Martin, Derek Parker and Brian Wallace.

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