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May 2, 2014

WALLACE STATE SOFTBALL: Lions cruise in ACCC/Region 22 tournament opener

ALABASTER — Sophomore Madeline Lee blasted a pair of solo homers and Mackenzie Hill hit a leadoff shot to jump start a seven-run first inning, lifting the defending national champion Wallace State softball team to a convincing 13-4 victory in five innings over Wallace-Dothan Friday in their Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament opener at Veteran’s Park in Alabaster.

Wallace State, one of three top-seeded teams in the tournament, is shooting for its third state championship in a row, seventh in eight seasons and ninth overall. The Lady Lions got off to a sweltering start against Wallace-Dothan, resembling the club that powered its way to a NJCAA Division I national championship last season.

After Wallace State (44-24) danced around a pair of errors on defense in the first, Hill, a freshman from Lawrence County High, led off with a bang, hitting her seventh homer of the season for a quick 1-0 lead.

The hit parade was just starting. Sabrina Russell reached on an error after Hill’s homer, Lee walked and Kori Benson singled. Two batters later, Rachel Ragland helped herself with a two-run double to right, making it 3-0. Misty Doran later followed with a two-run single, Isabella Campbell added an RBI single and Hill capped the outburst with an RBI double for an early 7-0 advantage.

Hill admitted she was anxious during her first collegiate postseason tournament.

“I was nervous out there to begin with, especially when we were on defense. Once we settled down and got the bats going, I knew it was going to be a good day,” Hill said. “I was glad to get the bats going with the homer.”  

Lee, who had missed the previous two weeks with ligament damage in her thumb, returned to the lineup with a vengeance, hitting a solo homer each in the second and third innings. Lee, an all-tournament selection last season at nationals, is now hitting .414 with 12 homers and 52 RBIs.

“I felt great out there today. I had to tell myself to relax, especially after missing a handful of games. Missing those games reminded me how much I wanted and needed to be out there,” Lee said. “It turned out great. I hope it gives us momentum into the rest of the tournament.”

Wallace State added five runs in the second and one in the third.

Wallace State plays Central Alabama at noon Saturday in a winner’s bracket game. The Lady Trojans are a No. 2 seed from the Central Division.

Wallace State had four players record multiple hit games, including Hill and Lee. Ragland finished with a pair of doubles and three RBIs and Doran was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.

Andrea McKenzie singled and scored two runs for the Lady Lions, Benson was 1-for-3 with a run scored and Campbell was 1-for-1 with a walk and a sacrifice fly.

“We had a shaky inning defensively in the first, but we were able to escape with no runs. That was big. It was also huge for us to get some early runs in order to cool the nerves,” said Wallace State coach Jayne Clem. “We didn’t play well defensively, but we never let up on offense. We’ve just to carry that into our next game.”

Ragland (18-9) was the winning pitcher for Wallace State. She went three innings and allowed three earned runs on three hits, striking out one and walking four.

Amanda Medders tossed two perfect innings in relief, striking out a pair.

 The state tournament concludes Sunday with the championship game set for 1 p.m. The winner advances to the NJCAA Division I softball championship at St. George, Utah, from May 14-17.

 

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