E.A. Sports Today

Valley Cubs leave it to ‘Petey’

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Alexandria among seven county teams in Tuscaloosa softball regional; Class 3A crowded

By Kady Curvin
For East Alabama Sports Today

Calhoun County will have a major presence in the North Central Regional softball tournament that starts Thursday in Tuscaloosa.

More than half of the county’s 13 softball teams will be playing at Sokol Park.

Faith Christian, Ohatchee, Wellborn, Piedmont and White Plains get underway Thursday. Alexandria and Oxford open tournament play on Friday.

Alexandria enters the event fresh off an area championship win over host Lincoln in which Lauren O’Dell came in during the seventh inning to shut the door on a growing Bears rally.

“Petey,” as O’Dell is known within the team, already has a state title under her belt. She is the Valley Cubs’ starting pitcher, but also helps the team at the plate and in the field.

She bats fourth and plays first base when she isn’t pitching. She is only a junior, but her dedication and versatility has turned her into a leader.

The preparation for regionals has not been easy. Long hours at practice and on the players’ own time are necessary to compete against the strong teams that will be playing in Tuscaloosa.

“We’re going to stay focused,” O’Dell said. “We’re going to learn to finish the inning, finish the game, and we’re going to keep doing what we do. Coach (Brian) Hess has got a plan out for us for the week and we’ll just see where it goes from there.”

The Lady Cubs are focusing on the little things, an insistence that began after a 9-3 home loss to Lincoln during the regular season. O’Dell knows fundamentals are extremely important.

“It all starts with taking it one out at a time and playing really good defense and making sure our bats come alive,” she said. “None of these teams would be at the regionals if they weren’t good, so we can’t take Dora very lightly. We should take Dora very seriously.”

​The bats definitely came alive in the area tournament. The Cubs erupted for nine runs in the championship game, with Timberlyn Shurbutt hitting her tenth home run of the season, a shot that proved to be the game-winning hit as the they withstood a late Lincoln rally.

Another big hitting tournament is expected if the team continues to have the mindset of attacking and seeing the ball.

“They have swung the bat well the last couple of weeks, so we are hoping to play well,” Hess said.

Those bats will look even bigger if O’Dell continues to pitch as well as she has recently.

“We’re hoping she does what she did last year,” Hess said. “She is looking more and more like Lauren always looked before.”

Her signature pitch is called “The Big Nasty,” a curve ball that has proven to be lethal against unsuspecting batters.

Superstition doesn’t play a major role in the Lady Cubs’ success, O’Dell said, but there are some traditions they have developed and observe.

“(The players) circle up and everybody gets in their spot that they have been in since the beginning of the season and we write our numbers in the dirt,” she said. “Everybody sits in their seat on the bus, like their assigned seat, because we’ve done that since the beginning, and we always start off the game with one certain cheer and we just go from there.”

Kady Curvin is a junior at Alexandria High School.

North Central Regional Tournament
At Sokol Park, Tuscaloosa
First-round pairings
Thursday’s games

Class 1A, 10 a.m.
Area 11 RU: Appalachian vs. Area 9 Winner: South Lamar (27-16)
Area 12 RU: Faith Christian (5-15) vs. Area 10 winner: Lynn (19-10)
Area 10 RU: Hackleburg (18-17) vs. Area 12 winner: Ragland (14-7)
Area 9 RU: Hubbertville (14-12) vs. Area 11 Winner: Meek

Class 2A, 11:30 a.m.
Area 11 RU: Southeastern vs. Area 9 Winner: Fayetteville (19-7)
Area 12 RU: West End vs. Area 10 winner: Randolph County
Area 10 RU: Ranburne vs. Area 12 winner: Gaston
Area 9 RU: Thorsby vs. Area 11 Winner: Sumiton Christian (41-11)

Class 3A, 1 p.m.
Area 11 RU: Ohatchee vs. Area 9 Winner: Winfield (19-18-1)
Area 12 RU: Walter Wellborn vs. Area 10 winner: Susan Moore (13-8)
Area 10 RU: Holly Pond (15-12) vs. Area 12 winner: Piedmont

Area 9 RU: Oakman (25-14) vs. Area 11 Winner: Glencoe

Class 4A, 4 p.m.
Area 11 RU: Cleburne County vs. Area 9 Winner: Curry (37-4)
Area 12 RU: Hokes Bluff vs. Area 10 winner: Oneonta (21-15)
Area 10 RU: J.B. Pennington (16-19) vs. Area 12 winner: Sardis (17-16)
Area 9 RU: Cordova (27-16) vs. Area 11 winner: White Plains

Friday’s games
Class 5A, 1 p.m.
Area 11 RU: Springville (30-11) vs. Area 9 Winner: Ramsay
Area 12 RU: Lincoln (22-19-1) vs. Area 10 winner: Corner (18-10)
Area 10 RU: Dora (21-21) vs. Area 12 winner: Alexandria (31-17)
Area 9 RU: Wenonah vs. Area 11 Winner: Hayden (31-5)

Class 6A, 2:30 p.m.
Area 11 RU: Walker vs. Area 9 Winner: Briarwood Christian (16-10-1)
Area 12 RU: Clay-Chalkville (17-21) vs. Area 10 winner: Oxford (29-16-1)
Area 10 RU: Chelsea vs. Area 12 winner: Pinson Valley
Area 9 RU: Homewood (13-15-1) vs. Area 11 Winner: Gardendale (19-19)

Class 7A, 4 p.m.
Area 6 RU: Hewitt-Trussville (30-9) vs. Area 5 Winner: Thompson (29-14)
Area 5 RU: Hoover vs. Area 6 winner: Spain Park (34-10-2)

Records provided by AHSAA

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