By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Don’t count ‘em out just yet.
Cold Springs rode the superb pitching and hitting efforts of freshman Rilee White to a 7-2 semifinal victory over Vinemont on Tuesday night at the Cullman County Softball Tournament.
The Eagle offense collected nine hits on the evening and produced several loud outs off pitcher Raven Christensen to earn a spot in the county title tilt.
“We’re tickled to be where we are,” coach Patrick West said. “We’ve got a young team, and we’re excited.”
White was brilliant for Cold Springs, scattering four hits, eight strikeouts and four walks over seven innings of work. She backed that up with three RBI at the plate, including a run-scoring double in the third inning.
“Rilee played well,” West said. “She got hit in the arm in the game before, and we weren’t sure if she was going to be able to pitch for us. She showed a lot of guts to go out there and pitch the whole game for us.”
With the game knotted at 1-1 in the third, the Eagle offense got to work.
McKinnley Davis led off the frame with a double, and Haley Freeman reached on a Vinemont error to set the table for the middle of the order. Davis was brought home by White’s double one batter later before catcher Taylor Payne extended Cold Springs’ lead to three with a two-run single up the middle. Hanna Wilson scored the frame’s final run on a Christensen wild pitch.
The Eagles added two more runs in the fourth, both on RBI doubles — one from Freeman and one from Payne — to pad their lead to six midway through the game.
Vinemont added a seventh-inning run on an RBI double from junior Kendra Pearson but it was too little, too late as the Eagles were eliminated from title contention.
Davis paced Cold Springs with three hits, while Freeman and Payne were good for two each. White and Bailey West rounded out the offensive production with one hit apiece.
Christensen bopped two singles for Vinemont, while teammates Pearson and Kiersten Simmons notched the only other two base knocks for the Eagles.
Cold Springs will play Good Hope today in the county championship final at 3 p.m. A loss marks the end of the road, while a win would give the Eagles a do-or-die game against the Raiders to determine the champion.
% Vinemont 6, Holly Pond 1: If Christensen was intimidated about facing the lineup of defending-Cullman County Softball Tournament champion Holly Pond, it certainly didn’t show on Tuesday. The Eagle ace pitched a gem against the Broncos, tossing a complete-game five-hitter in the victory.
Vinemont got on the board in the first inning with a couple of RBI singles from Katie Speer and Allison Fowler to jump out to a 2-1 lead after Holly Pond scored the first run of the game on an RBI double by Katlyn Whitehead.
The Eagles’ momentum didn’t slow in the second frame, as they tacked on four more runs thanks to RBI doubles from Speer and Christensen and an RBI single from Katie Fuller.
The five-run lead was plenty for Christensen, who shutdown the opposition time and time again, once retiring eight Broncos in a row to keep her team out in front.
Speer led the way with three hits, with Fuller and Fowler collecting two apiece. Christensen, Rachel Sellers, Grace Griggs, Pearson and Simmons all got in the hit column as well for the Eagles.
Taylor Rowell roped two base knocks for Holly Pond. Whitehead, Emily Thompson and Brittany Turnbough also had hits.
% Good Hope 8, Cold Springs 3: The Raiders powered their way to the title tilt, slugging three home runs for a semifinal victory versus the Eagles.
Alannah Henke knocked one out in the fourth inning, while Kayla Tillman and Cara Goodwin followed with solo shots of their own in the sixth to put the game out of reach for Cold Springs.
Trailing 6-1 in the top of the sixth, the Eagles pieced together some hits and took advantage of a few wild pitches from Goodwin to cut the deficit to three. It was as close as the Cold Springs would get however, as the No. 4 Raiders’ bats were too much in the end.
Tillman had three hits in the game, while Henke and Goodwin each collected two. Kacy Thomas and Darcie Wilson were good for one hit apiece as well.
For the Eagles, White had a hit and knocked in a pair of runs. Wilson had an RBI single as well. Freeman and Davis (two) scored all of Cold Springs’ runs.
% Holly Pond 7, Fairview 6 (nine innings): The defending-champion Broncos survived a scare from a tough Aggie squad but were able to squeak by with a one-run victory in a back-and-forth contest earlier in the day.
Trailing 6-4 in the bottom half of the sixth inning, Fairview tied the game on a two-run double from Kaylynn Holcomb. Abbie Hall followed that hit with a two-run home run to center field to extendd the game into extra innings.
From there, the Broncos finally broke through on an infield, run-scoring single from Rowell that gave her team the well-deserved victory.
Thompson pitched all nine innings to pick up the win.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.