E.A. Sports Today

Williams, Pressley lead Piedmont to area title

Toughened Bulldogs take out Wellborn; Faith, Oxford also qualify for regionals



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By Brant Locklier
For East Alabama Sports Today

WELLBORN — Kayleigh Williams was not going to let the Piedmont Bulldogs be denied the Class 3A Area 12 championship Thursday night.

The centerfielder went 4-for-4, scored two runs, drove in one and made some outstanding catches in the outfield and, combined with great pitching by Kendall Pressley, the Bulldogs shut down Wellborn 6-1.

Piedmont (23-21) went 3-0 in the tournament and outscored its opponents 20-5 to move on to the regionals in Tuscaloosa that begin Thursday. The Panthers (21-9) also advance to the Tuscaloosa Regional; in fact, all the Calhoun County teams that made it out of their area tournaments will be playing there.

”We showed our determination as we knew what these games meant,” Bulldogs coach Rachel Smith said. “Getting to the Regional has been one of our goals this year.

Torre Roberts was hit by a pitch and Williams had a single in the top of the first to put Piedmont quickly on top against Wellborn ace Mikayla Ludwig.

Two Wellborn errors scored Williams in the fourth inning and Hannah Hulsizer singled home another run to make it 3-0.

Williams and Pressley singled with two outs in the fifth and Madison Pike singled home Williams with the fourth Bulldog run.

Laurel Hambric singled in the bottom of the sixth and scored on a throwing error for the Panthers’ only run, but Williams had a nice running catch in center to shut down the inning.

Rachel Baggett doubled and Williams doubled her home with her fourth hit of the game, and Williams scored on a single by Pike to make it 6-1. Williams went 7-for-11 in the tournament with four RBIs and Pike was 5-for-10 and reached on two errors to lead the Bulldog attack. Pressley was named the Tournament MVP

Pressley pitched all three games for the Bulldogs as the lefty took over in the fifth inning of their first game against Pleasant Valley and ended up allowing only three runs in 17 innings.

”Kendall fields her position so well and maintains her composure,” Smith said. “She is just a great kid and just doesn’t make many mistakes out there.”

Piedmont came into this tournament having played 20 ranked teams during the season and suffered several close losses against ranked teams in classes higher than their 3A classification. They played in 16 one-run games and faced almost every top pitcher in Northeast Alabama.

The schedule was tough to make the Bulldogs better when it came tournament time and Smith has seen her team learn how to finish games.

”We played some really tough teams this year,” Smith said, “but our kids bought into what we were trying to do and I give all the credit to them, as they came to work every day, and our assistant coaches. And we have great fan support.”

Tired Lions rally from rough start to advance

RAGLAND – Faith Christian bounced back from a 7-0 deficit in the first inning of its first game and played four games without a break while finishing second in its area tournament to gain a spot in the regionals.

The Lions beat JCA 18-9 in the comeback game and 12-2 in what coach Bradley Dawson called “the most important game of the day.” They lost to Ragland 7-0 and 12-2 in the championship game.

“We accomplished our goal for the day,” Dawson said. “It was probably the best performance of the whole year of being positive and finishing the day. I’ve been on them about finishing and not getting tired. We fought through it and came back and won.”

Eighth-grader Kristin Covington pitched all seven innings of the first game, as was the plan. She kept JCA off the board after the rough first until the sixth last inning, racing 13 batters over the next four innings in between. The Lions, meanwhile, took the lead with nine runs in the second inning.

Oxford takes two to earn regional berth

CHELSEA – Oxford took control of the Class 6A, Area 10 tournament with a pair of wins to move into the Friday night finals.

The Lady Yellow Jackets opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over Pell City and then jumped all over Chelsea 10-4 in the second game. Pell City will play Chelsea in the first game Friday with the winner having to beat the Lady Jackets twice to win the title.

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