E.A. Sports Today

County softball wide open

White Plains seeded No. 1, but any of about 8 teams could win the title

Players from Oxford and Pleasant Valley come together after Saturday's game. They could meet in the third round of the County Tournament Thursday. On the cover, White Plains coach Rachel Ford talks to her team after a game at Jacksonville State.

Players from Oxford and Pleasant Valley come together after Saturday’s game. They could meet in the third round of the County Tournament Thursday. On the cover, White Plains coach Rachel Ford talks to her team after a game at Jacksonville State.

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — The Calhoun County Softball Tournament starts Tuesday and it may be the most balanced tournament ever as seven or eight teams could win the title if they get hot pitching and hitting.

It may be the best softball Calhoun County has seen as almost all the teams in the county have displayed some strong performances throughout the year.

White Plains (20-5) is seeded No. 1 and deservedly so as the Wildcats have won a couple of tournaments at Oxford Lake and played some very good teams. They have great pitching in seniors Anna Snider and Amber Greenwood and a lineup of hitters that attack every pitch with a great intensity. Coach Rachel Ford has this team playing at a very high level and they enter the tournament ranked No. 7 in the Class 4A poll.

No. 2 seeded Alexandria is trying to defend a state championship. The Valley Cubs (18-11) lost some big bats off that team and have played a tough schedule. They are ranked No. 8 in the 5A poll and have won their last four in a row. Coach Brian Hess always has his team ready by year’s end and shortstop Timberlynn Shurbutt can flat-out play.

Oxford holds down the No. 3. The Lady Jackets (19-11) have played the top- ranked team in Class 7A, 6A, 5A and 4A this season. They are coming off a tournament victory last weekend that saw them come from behind three times to win games and show a lot of mental toughness.

Coach Wendy McKibbin has two dynamic pitchers in Jo Jo Skinner and Rylee Waldrep. Kendra Larkin and Haley Lyner regularly come up with clutch hits and the Jackets keep finding ways to win. They are in the bottom half of the bracket and could meet Alexandria in the semifinals.

No. 4 seed Wellborn (14-5) has won nine of its last 10 games and have had some very close losses to some very good teams. Mikayla Ludwig can pitch with the best of them and coach Brenda Vinson’s batters hit the ball. Carlee Mullinax sits in the 4-5 hole in the batting order and just drives in runs. The Panthers are in the upper part of the bracket and could meet White Plains in the semi-finals.

The very dangerous Piedmont Bulldogs are seeded fifth. They are 14-17, but are 7-2 in their last nine games. They lost 11 games in the early part of the season by fewer than three runs with seven of them being by one run. They very easily could be 20-10 under the direction of Coach Rachel Smith.

Pitchers Kayleigh Williams and Kendall Pressley are continually improving and shortstop Torre Roberts along Pressley lead a hot offense. They just need to finish games and once they figure that out they are going to be hard to beat.

The sixth seed belongs to Ohatchee. The Indians (15-8) have lost a couple of games to a ranked Glencoe team and a ranked Cleburne County team, but they have beaten a No. 1-ranked Ragland team and have an impressive offense when they get rolling. Shay Clements is a superb leadoff hitter and pitcher Morgan Lee and Joria Steger provide power and speed to the lineup.

Pleasant Valley is a seventh seed that has the potential to win the championship. The Raiders (15-12) are ranked No. 7 in Class 3A and lost to 6A Oxford 6-5 in the finals of their own Lady Raider Classic last weekend.

They have two close losses to Wellborn and one to Piedmont. They lost by one run to a ranked 6A Pell City team as well as a tough loss to No. 1-4A 4A Curry. Senior leadoff hitter Tiffany Williams sets the table for power hitters Kara Perry and McKinley Parris. Anna Bryant and Savannah Williams do a great job pitching.

Jacksonville (5-22) has been playing some strong opponents and has picked up a couple of wins lately. Coach C.J. Boyd has a great leadoff hitter in Reagan Stallings and Mary Mabry has been pitching very well.

No. 9 seeded Saks (7-15) did not play well in the first half of the season as they started out (2-11) and then won five straight games in a tournament at Oxford Lake and were playing some amazing softball with a couple of wins over Piedmont.

Coach Michelle Lively may have the best lead-off hitter in the county in Bre Browning. The lefty is a great bunter and can fly and is very hard to keep off the bases. Lanie Dreyer battles on the mound. When this Saks team is healthy and everybody is focused it can play with anybody.

No. 10 Weaver (1-16) is very young. The Bearcats have been playing some close games, but not getting the wins. They have lost close games to Horseshoe Bend, Pleasant Valley, Glencoe and Saks. Ciara Hardy has pitched well, but has not gotten much run support.

No. 11 seed Faith Christian (6-9) is led by pitcher Pressley Whitten and seventh-grader Sara Jessica Christjohn. No. 12 Jacksonville Christian (3-6) is led at the plate by Briah Cupp, Kylie Cupp, Joeley Cupp and Regan Espana. Anniston (0-5) is the No. 13 seed.

Calhoun County Softball Tournament
At Oxford Lake Park

Tuesday’s games
Field A

No. 7 Pleasant Valley vs. No. 10 Weaver, 5 p.m.
No. 2 Alexandria vs. Pleasant Valley-Weaver winner, 6:30 p.m.

Field B
No. 5 Piedmont vs. No. 12 JCA, 5 p.m.
No. 8 Jacksonville vs. No. 9 Saks, 6:30 p.m.

Field C
No. 4 Wellborn vs. No. 13 Anniston, 5 p.m.
Piedmont-JCA winner vs. Wellborn-Anniston winner, 6:30 p.m.

Field D
No. 6 Ohatchee vs. No. 11 Faith Christian, 5 p.m.
No. 3 Oxford vs. Ohatchee-Faith winner, 6:30 p.m.

x-No. 1 White Plains plays Jacksonville-Saks winner, Thursday, 5 p.m. (Field A)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login