Special To The Times
The Cullman Times
The No. 17 Wallace State softball team has punished opponents all season with the long ball, so it was appropriate the top-seeded Lady Lions opened the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 Tournament Friday with four first-inning homers, propelling them to a 12-0 rout over Enterprise State at Veteran’s Park.
In the first frame, Wallace State leadoff hitter Laken Hancock blasted a pair of solo shots, Libby Olinger added a three-run homer and Shaq Morris contributed a two-run shot, going back-to-back with Hancock to wrap up the early fireworks in an eight-run inning.
The Lady Lions entered Friday’s game with 56 homers as a club, but the batters who delivered in the first were unlikely power sources. Hancock hit her second and third homers, while Olinger belted her first and Morris connected with her second.
“That first inning was huge for us. A lot of these freshmen haven’t been to a state tournament before, so getting those early home runs relaxed everyone.” said Wallace State coach Jayne Clem, whose team won in five innings. “Laken stepped up big and led off the game with a bang, and Libby relaxed and played well. Libby has struggled at times, but we kept reminding her that her time was coming. When we settle down and hit on all cylinders like that, I don’t think any team can stay on the field with us.”
Catcher Paige Rowland added a solo shot in the second — her 10th of the year.
Wallace State, one of three top seeds in the tournament, advanced to play Southern Union Saturday at noon. The Lady Lions (47-11), who beat Southern Union 2-1 on March 1, are three wins away from back-to-back state titles and their sixth championship in seven seasons.
Wallace State right-handers Lindsey DeFee and Kelsey King combined on a one-hitter. DeFee (23-5) went the first four innings, striking out seven and allowing one hit. King pitched a perfect fifth, fanning one.
Hancock complemented her homers with a single and three runs, Olinger contributed a run-scoring single and four RBIs, Morris added a single, Victoria Frith was 2 for 4 with a double and a run, and Katie Gentle finished 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Weather permitting, the three-day tournament will conclude 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 15-18.