E.A. Sports Today

Panthers pluck point of pride

Wellborn, Saks win two games to clinch first place in respective pools



By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — When LaLa Carroll drilled a base hit to knock in the winning run in Wellborn’s 2-1 victory over Horseshoe Bend, the cry was heard out of the crowd, “Now that is what a Panther does.”

It was the first of two wins Friday night for the Panthers at Oxford Lake and clinched first place in Pool A of the Piedmont tournament. It also prompted a search to discover exactly what being a Wellborn Panther means. There always does seem a special feeling one gets when they watch a Wellborn team play.

“It is a feeling that people believe in us,” said sophomore Carlee Mullinax, who shows that tenacity with her play on the softball field and basketball and volleyball courts. “They expect something from us and that we have to give our best and do not want to disappoint.

“The best part is when you are in a close game and you have to kick in that attitude and then when you are able to come back and beat them or know that you have tried your very best.”

Three-sport boys star Landon Machristie was on hand to cheer on the girls after his baseball team swept Weaver. He was among five baseball seniors recognized after the doubleheader and said it was the community that made all his Senior Days this season special – and he’s had three of them.

”Ever since the good old days people have pounded in our heads the importance of being from Wellborn,” Machristie said. “I have always dreamed of being a Wellborn Panther and playing on the Hill. We hear all the stories from the past. We are taught to never give up from Day One. It does not matter how far you are behind. You never lay down and you always hustle.”

The Panthers won Pool A with that kind of spirit. In addition to beating Horseshoe Bend, they also blanked Trinity 6-0.

Taylor Houck had two hits in the Horseshoe Bend game and Carroll’s game-winning hit was among three she had in the game. Mikayla Ludwig pitched a magnificent game to get the win on the mound.

Reagan Nunez had a big game in the Trinity win as she drove in three runs with singles in the second and third innings.

Coach Brenda Vinson commented about the win,” We believe in being aggressive and staying focused and make plays and be a play maker,” coach Brenda Vinson said.

Saks 8, Piedmont 6
Saks 8, Carver-Montgomery 2



The Wildcats opened an early 8-1 lead over Piedmont and the survived a wild fifth inning that took the game to its time limit. The Bulldogs scored five runs and had the bases loaded with just one out, but the Wildcats escaped.

Bree Browning and Laken Haynes score two runs apiece to pace the Wildcats. Torre Roberts went 2-for-3 for Piedmont.

Lanie Dreyer pitched six very good innings to shut down Carver-Montgomery and Browning scored three times to put the Wildcats in a good position to clinch first place in Pool B.

“We came back from the break with a really good attitude and really played well and have just been ready to play,” Saks coach Michelle Lively said.

Cleburne County 7, Weaver 0
Cleburne County 7, Brooks 0

Cleburne County clinched Pool D with a couple of impressive pitching performances by Amber Parker and Kiara Akles. Parker got the shutout against Weaver and Akles got the shutout against Brooks.

The Tigers started out slow in both games, but by the end were flexing their muscles at the plate and in the field. The two wins mean they will not have to play until 3 p.m. today.

“We need to play some games and get into a playing rhythm,” coach Ron Ervin said. “Akles is having a great year. She is just a sophomore, too. She struck out 11 in a victory over Oxford. She works hard, very hard. She is a ‘yes sir, no sir’ type kid and a joy to coach.”

Piedmont 4, North Jackson 0

The Bulldogs got shutout pitching from Kayleigh Williams and some timely hitting from Roberts, Kendall Pressley, Peggy Ridley, Hayden Tyree and Madison Pike to beat the Chiefs, a top 15 team in Class 4A.

The pieces seem to be falling in place for the Bulldogs, who have been playing a brutal schedule.

“Our defense has been playing solid, but our offense has struggled,” Bulldogs coach Rachel Smith said. “We have been fortunate in that we have not missed too many games due to the weather. It was good to see the offense finally starting to make some adjustments.”

Ohatchee 4, Ranburne 3



The Indians came out flat and it almost cost them. They had a chance to have a big first inning but ran into a double play and got only one run. Then they found themselves down 3-1 in the fourth inning with the time limit on the game running out, but Maggie Phillips slapped a two-run double to in a three-run fourth that highlighted the comeback.

Taylor Hamm came on in relief in the second inning after a three-run Ranburne first and shut out the Bulldogs the rest of the way to pick up the win.

“Hamm did a great job on the mound for us,” Indians coach Rachel Pruitt said. “She did not give up any runs and she has such a great attitude.”

Morgan Lee and Joria Steger had two hits apiece to lead the Indians at the plate.

Jacksonville 9, Ranburne 2

Ashton Gaddy banged out three hits and scored three runs for the Golden Eagles. Kaila Barnes had hit hits and drove in three. Essence Hutchinson added two RBIs and Caitlyn Ryan had two hits. Sully Mabry was the winning pitcher and helped her cause with two RBIs.

Brooks 8, Weaver 5

Indeya Thompson scored two runs, Lauren Reed, Cortney Williams and Hailee Wine one each, but it was not enough as the Bearcats saw a 5-3 lead disappear in the late innings.

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