E.A. Sports Today

Taking the lead

Lincoln gains early edge on Alexandria in area softball race after Thursday’s win, but they have to play again

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The Lincoln softball team pulled out of Alexandria’s parking lot Thursday with both teams in the same position they found themselves after this game a year ago.

That may be the only similarity to the circumstances.

Lincoln took the upper hand in the Class 5A Area 12 softball race with a 4-1 victory. It put the pressure on Alexandria to do what’s necessary to force a tiebreaker to host the area tournament, but it’s not a position the Lady Cubs haven’t been in before.

Last year, they lost to the Lady Bears at home, but won the return game a few weeks later to force a coin flip to determine the tournament host. The toss went to Lincoln, but the Lady Cubs beat their hosts in the tournament final.

“It’s similar, but it’s different,” Alexandria coach Brian Hess said. “We don’t have near the players we had. Even though we only lost one, we’re still missing a couple key parts of that.

“This right here is all for hosting; at the end of the day, as long as you win the tournament that’s all that matters. We’ve still got a couple months before that comes around so hopefully we can figure out some of our problems.”

If the Lady Cubs (9-3) can beat St. Clair County on the road Tuesday they’d be no worse than a No. 2 seed in what would become a three-team area tournament if Anniston shuts down its program as rumored later today.

The Lady Bears (17-6) aren’t quite the same team as they were a year ago, either. Coach Rush Rutledge says they’re a tighter-knit bunch that plays hard together and feeds off each other.

The fifth-ranked Lady Cubs simply made too many too many mistakes in the game to be effective. The Lady Bears, meanwhile, didn’t make any errors and hit the ball with runners in scoring position.

“When we do that, we’re pretty tough,” Rutledge said. “There were times last year we’d make five or six errors because we got nervous. Today, we just played the game. We made the simple plays, we made the plays we were supposed to make; we didn’t give them anything. That’s the difference between this year’s team to last year’s team: We’re not giving folks anything.”

Savannah Sands kept Alexandria off the scoreboard until the seventh inning; by then, Lincoln had a 4-0 lead.

The Lady Bears broke a scoreless tie with three in the fourth and added an insurance run in the sixth on Sands’ second RBI single of the game. Kamryn Beasley also had two hits in the game for Lincoln.

“It’s hard to come over here and win,” Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge said. “It doesn’t matter what sport it is, you come over here and win in Alexandria it’s a big deal.”

The Lady Cubs threatened in the bottom of the fourth, putting its first two runners on and getting them both in scoring position, but Sands got out of it unscathed with a strikeout and two grounders to short.

“I couldn’t have done it without any of my teammates,” Sands said. “I knew my team had my back.”

Catalan Howell doubled in each of her final two at-bats for Alexandria and drove in its only run. Jessica Shaw also had two hits and was on base all three times she batted, as was pitcher Lauren O’Dell.

Piedmont 2, Weaver 1

PIEDMONT – Kendall Pressley’s two-out RBI double capped a two-run rally in the sixth inning that lifted Piedmont to the 3A Area 12 victory.

Kaitlyn Ridley got the rally started with a one-out single and was sacrificed to second before Pressley doubled to right-centerfield.

Weaver parlayed its only two hits of the game into a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Rayne Beck hit a one-out single and rode home on Mariah Thompson’s double. Beck was the Lady Bearcats’ only other base runner, when she drew a two-out walk in the sixth.

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