E.A. Sports Today

3 teams emerge in County Tournament

Alexandria, Oxford, No. 5 Piedmont reach winner’s semifinals; top-seeded White Plains yet to play

Saks' Bre Browning had a big day in leading the Wildcats past Jacksonville. They face top-seeded White Plains next.

Saks’ Bre Browning had a big day in leading the Wildcats past Jacksonville. They face top-seeded White Plains next.

By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Three teams battled their way into the Final Four of the Calhoun County Softball Tournament at Oxford Lake Tuesday as the tournament successfully dodged the raindrops to get in eight games in the winner’s brackets.

Piedmont, Alexandria and Oxford took care of business to make their way into the semifinals. The winner of the Saks-White Plains game on Thursday will join them in the Final Four of the double elimination event that is scheduled to finish on Friday.

However, tournament officials were considering moving up the games to start around lunch Thursday and then complete the tournament later that day. They will be making an announcement Thursday morning if the necessary approvals are obtained.

Piedmont (17-17) reached the semifinals in stirring fashion by knocking off Jacksonville Christian 12-0 and Wellborn 4-3 in an eight-inning game filled with drama.

Bulldogs coach Rachel Smith said a couple weeks ago her team “needs to learn how to close out games.” They had lost many close games against a very strong schedule and in the last few games really seem to be gaining toughness. They broke up a 1-0 game against JCA with 11 runs in the third inning.

Torre Roberts, Rachel Baggett, Kayleigh Williams, Hayden Tyree and Peggy Ridley all had two hits and Williams fashioned the shutout.

Piedmont's Torre Roberts helped her team to two wins with four hits and several spectacular plays in the field.

Piedmont’s Torre Roberts helped her team to two wins with four hits and several spectacular plays in the field.

It was a much different story against Wellborn. The Panthers reached the second round with an 18-0 destruction of Anniston in which they scored all their runs in the first inning.

All nine Wellborn starters had a hit and scored a run despite only batting in two innings as the game was run-ruled in the third.

Panthers coach Brenda Vinson graciously called off the troops after the first. “The umps had to call our kids out if they left the base too early,” she said. LaLa Carroll’s 3-for-3 led the team at the plate.

This set up the Piedmont-Wellborn game that quickly became a classic as it went eight innings and ended well after the other games had finished. The other teams crowded around as the two 3A area rivals went at it toe-to-toe.

Piedmont struck first when Kendall Pressley singled home Roberts in the top of the first, but the Panthers (15-6) matched it when Kamryn Beasley’s single scored Taylor Houck.

The Bulldogs went up 3-1 in the fourth on RBI singles by Tylin Wilson and Tyree, but Wellborn retied it immediately as Reagan Nunez singled home Carlee Mullinax and Mikayla Ludwig’s ground out drove in Nunez.

Both teams escaped huge jams in the seventh inning as the crowd was hanging on every pitch.

The Bulldogs got a run in the top of the eighth on a throwing error in a rundown that allowed Williams to score from third, and then Pressley pitched out of a runner on third with one out situation to preserve the victory.

The two teams have split four games the last couple of weeks with Piedmont winning tournament games and Wellborn winning the regular-season games.

Piedmont will now face the winner of the Saks-White Plains game. No. 9 seeded Saks (8-15) continued its dramatic second half turnaround, rolling past No. 8 Jacksonville 10-1.

The surging Wildcats, 2-11 at spring break, jumped out to a 7-0 lead after three innings.

Leadoff hitter Bre Browning continued to dominate at the plate as she singled twice, stole three bases and scored two runs in those first three innings. Speedster Annabelle Shelly was on right behind her giving Laken Haynes and Daja Johnson chances to drive them home. Lanie Dreyer picked up the win.

“Our team came back from the Spring Break with a great attitude,” Saks coach Michelle Lively said.

In the bottom half of the bracket, Oxford and defending state 5A champion Alexandria flexed their muscles with some power at the plate and some great pitching to set up a huge semi-final match up on Thursday.

Oxford (20-11) scored five runs in the third and fourth innings to pull away to a 6-1 victory over Ohatchee (16-9) in a time-shortened event. The Yellow Jackets got home runs from Haley Lyner and Taylor Ellison as well as RBI doubles from Ashlyn Miller and Amber Dempsey. JoJo Skinner was the winning pitcher.

Haley Lyner homered in Oxford's victory over Ohatchee.

Haley Lyner homered in Oxford’s victory over Ohatchee.

The Ohatchee bats were quiet on the night as they only scored three runs in two games. They scored two early runs against Faith Christian and then watched pitcher Shay Clements pitch out of several jams to take a 2-0 win. Pressley Whitten pitched extremely well for the Lions, but they missed numerous opportunities to score runs and she took the loss.

Alexandria continued its recent surge as it scored four times in the first inning against Pleasant Valley on the way to a 9-0 win. Timberlynn Shurbutt blasted a three-run homer as time ran out in the fifth inning.

Lauren O’Dell pitched the shutout and also had an RBI single. Jessica Shaw had a two-run double and Brianna Brown had a run-producing single for the Valley Cubs (23-12)

Pleasant Valley got to the Alexandria game by beating Weaver 10-1. The Lady Raiders (16-13) reached Weaver pitcher Courtney Williams for eight runs in the home third inning to blow the game open. Kara Perry and Atleigh Brannon each drove in a couple of runs. Alisa St John was the winning pitcher.

Calhoun County Softball Tournament
Tuesday’s Results

Saks 10, Jacksonville 1
Piedmont 12, JCA 0
Wellborn 18, Anniston 0
Ohatchee 2, Faith 0
Pleasant Valley 10, Weaver 1
Piedmont 4, Wellborn 3, 8 innings
Oxford 6, Faith Christian 1
Alexandria 9, Pleasant Valley 0

Thursday’s Games
(Times to be determined)

Winner’s Bracket
Oxford vs. Alexandria
White Plains vs. Saks
White Plains-Saks winner vs. Piedmont

Loser’s Bracket
JCA vs. Anniston
Ohatchee vs. JCA-Anniston winner
Pleasant Valley vs. Jacksonville
Faith Christian vs. Wellborn
Weaver vs. White Plains-Saks loser

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