The Cullman Times
Patrick West genuinely thought his Cold Springs softball squad could defeat its first two opponents during Day 1 at the North Central Regional Tournament on Friday evening in Tuscaloosa.
Turns out, the longtime coach was exactly right.
The Class 2A Eagles ousted Vincent 7-3 in their first game before a quality 5-0 win over Pleasant Valley to enter Saturday needing just one victory to seal a berth at the state tournament.
“We did what we wanted to do,” West said. “(That second game) was the best we’ve played against the best team we have played all season. I think we raised the bar a little. The girls are excited. I thought we could do it.”
Rilee White continued her torrid season, tossing a complete game against Pleasant Valley with three strikeouts and three hits allowed. She was also 3 of 3 at the plate with two RBIs.
Other contributors were Bailey West, three hits; McKinnley Davis, two hits; Haley Freeman, two hits and an RBI; Savanna Taylor, a hit; and Hanna Wilson, an RBI.
The win sets up a possible rematch with Lamar County, an area foe that’s defeated the Eagles seven straight times, at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
White also shone in the first contest for Cold Springs with a terrific three-hit day to go along with a six-inning performance in the pitcher's circle, where she yielded three hits and struck out seven batters.
Kelsey Hester pitched the seventh and struck out two. She also notched two hits and two RBIs in the win.
Davis had two base knocks, while Taylor Payne had an RBI double. Wilson and Taylor each had one hit, while Freeman secured two RBIs.
“We had 10 hits in that game, and we actually hit about four missiles right at them,” West said. “We hit the ball really well in both games.”
% Gordo 13, Good Hope 2: The Raiders fell on hard times in their Game 1 matchup in Tuscaloosa on Friday evening. Good Hope was led by Alannah Henke’s two hits and one RBI. Bailie Andrews, Darby Randolph and Bailey Starnes each had a base hit in the loss, with the latter also contributing an RBI.
The Raiders were scheduled to play Northside later on for a win-or-go-home contest.
North Regional Tournament
Meanwhile, over in Huntsville, Holly Pond kept its season alive for another day by outlasting Westminster Christian 1-0 in a nine-inning marathon.
Sami Hinds was responsible for the game-winning RBI for the Broncos, who were scheduled to battle Mars Hill Bible later on in the evening.
Addison’s season will also continue following a clean 7-0 victory over Skyline. The Bulldogs played Athens Hill Bible for an opportunity to go 2-0 on the night, but a score was unknown by deadline.
% Etowah 7, Cullman 6 (9 innings): The Bearcats were a mere three outs away from advancing to Day 2 of the North Regional Tournament in Huntsville when the unthinkable occurred.
Cullman scored a run in the top half of the ninth inning to nab a one-run lead before the Blue Devils smacked a two-run dinger over the fence to end the Black and Gold’s season at 30-20.
The Bearcats had trailed 3-0 midway through the bout before a spirited comeback effort that ultimately fell just a little short.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Cullman coach Stephanie Barlow said. “They fought hard to the very end, but sometimes things don’t click or go your way. That happens in softball.”
Senior Hayden Short was tremendous in his last prep contest, collecting three hits and three RBIs. Claire Jenkins added three hits of her own to go along with two RBIs. Kaitlyn Brannon was good for two base knocks, too.
“The middle of their lineup had been hitting us all game long,” Barlow said. “We still had the lead, though. They just did what they had to do and scored when they needed it most.”
During Game 1 versus Scottsboro, the Bearcats found off an electric start from the Wildcats — they trailed 8-0 after a pair of innings — to tie the game at 8-all during the waning frames.
Unfortunately for Barlow and Co., the bottom of Scottsboro’s order strung together some hits to win it in the seventh, 9-8.
Sierra Easterwood was 4 for 4 at the plate including a homer and three RBIs. Jenkins secured two hits and Brannon, a bases-clearing double.
Cullman loses just one senior (Short) off this year’s team and fully expects to be right back in this same spot when next year rolls around.
“We plan on going to state next season,” Barlow said. “We’re going to Class 6A, but that’s our goal. They’ve tasted it now.”
% The Times’ Jake Winfrey contributed to this report.