Wallace State

Wallace State's Olivia Ball — a West Point graduate — leads the celebration.

Wallace State’s seventh-ranked softball team navigated through the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Tournament as it did during the regular season — with a flurry of offensive firepower and strong sophomore pitching.

The Lions dominated the event, winning the program’s 13th conference tournament title and first since 2018, sealing the championship with a 12-4 victory in five innings over Central Alabama at Veterans Park in Alabaster on Sunday.

Wallace State (53-4) outscored its four opponents 44-4, not yielding a run until the championship game. The Lions also clubbed nine home runs, including three in the championship game, to increase the school record round-trippers total to 115.

Wallace State softball has won six consecutive games and 27 of its last 28 games.

“I’m very proud of this team. I doubt many teams have run-ruled their way through the winner’s bracket. This team has bought into the weight room and the expected work ethic. They understand how we do things at Wallace State,” said coach A.J. Daugherty. “We played Wallace State softball and a championship is usually the result.”

It’s the third conference title under Daugherty in five seasons. He was named the 2021 ACCC Coach of the Year, reaching the 200-win mark with the Lions in Saturday’s second victory.

“Everyone at Wallace State expects you to win. There are a lot of people invested in our program across campus, so it’s special to bring the championship back,” Daugherty said. “The expectation of winning is one thing that attracted me to Wallace State, so it’s nice to deliver on that.”

Daugherty also credited assistant coach Cadi Oliver for her valuable contributions to the team’s success.

Wallace State now advances to the NJCAA Division I National Championship in Yuma, Ariz., on May 25-29. The Lions will seek the program’s third national championship.

Wallace State opened the tournament Friday with a comfortable 10-0 win against Calhoun. On Saturday, the Lions added wins of 14-0 and 8-0 against Central Alabama and Lurleen B. Wallace CC respectively.

In the championship game, Wallace State faced early deficits of 2-0 and 4-3 before the bats went to work in the third and fourth innings. The Lions combined to crank three home runs, courtesy of Morgan White, Madisen Adams and Gracie Benton.

White blasted a two-run homer in the third. In the fourth, Benton had a solo shot and Adams added a three-run blast. 

Benton, a freshman from Hayden, was named tournament MVP.

“We’re a team of home run hitters. Any hitter from one to nine in the lineup can hit one out,” Benton said. “It’s a great weapon to have.”

White, Felicity Frame and Jaiden Farnetti were also All-Tournament selections for the Lions.

White and Maddie Cartron each had a pair of homers in the tournament. Cartron has 24 homers this season, surpassing the previous school record set by Kori Benson in 2013.

Farnetti, Brantly Bonds and Kelsey McPeters also homered throughout the four wins.

“It’s an awesome feeling to win a championship, especially after COVID-19 cut our season short last year,” said Bonds, a sophomore from Corner. “It took everyone pulling on the same rope and believing in each other. We look forward to going to Arizona to do the same thing.”

Sophomore Raven Clark was the winning pitcher in relief.

The sophomore pitching trio of Clark, Haylee Folds and Josie Thompson has been solid all season, and they combined to keep each opponent at bay throughout the tournament, not allowing a run until the championship game.

“We feed off each other and know the offense has our backs if we struggle. It relieves pressure when your offense is as lethal as ours,” Folds said.

Wallace State softball earned the seventh ACCC championship for the college this academic year, joining both cross country and tennis teams, volleyball and women’s golf.

Players also on the roster and not previously mentioned are Erin Chambliss, Abigail Beech, Andrea Harbin, Abigail Waters, Kalli Cartee, Madison Sanders, Abigail Bryars, Harper Niblett, Olivia Ball, Jessica Edde, Macy Anderson, Megan Warhurst, Lauren McCoy and Lily Calvert.

Managers are Dalton Wilson and Savannah Mims.

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