E.A. Sports Today

Cubs getting close

O’Dell pitches, hits Alexandria into a spot in the regionals, area title next in sight

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

LINCOLN — It’s going to take a lot more than a few sniffles to keep Lauren O’Dell out of the circle — or the game.

The Alexandria senior pitcher was fighting a bit of a cold and congestion Tuesday night, but that didn’t stop her from pitching two shutouts and hitting two home runs as the Lady Cubs punched their ticket to the Class 5A softball regionals with two wins in the Area 12 Tournament.

They pounded St. Clair County 15-0 in a game that didn’t last three full innings and then blanked top-seeded Lincoln 5-0.

They now await the SCC-Lincoln winner for the tournament title Thursday.

“The biggest relief is punching the ticket to Tuscaloosa,” Cubs coach Brian Hess said. “That’s what our goal is all year. Whether we win the area or not, the biggest thing is qualifying because you can’t do anything else if you don’t qualify.

“This was a big step tonight and we just have to come back Thursday and finish it.”

O’Dell pitched both games. She gave up three hits and struck out three in the first game, then gave up four hits and struck out seven in the nightcap. She was 3-for-5 at the plate in the doubleheader, hitting a two-run homer in the first game that dented the scoreboard and a two-run shot in the first inning against Lincoln.

“Unless I have anything broke, hanging off or bleeding, I’ll be out there,” she said. “Unless I’m dead I’m not going to stop throwing. If I’m sick as a dog I’m going to still go out here and throw my best.”

Lincoln twice had runners at third with less than two outs and O’Dell pitched her way out of the jam.

“She just has a lot of grit and tenacity; you can’t say enough about it,” Hess said. “Since she’s been here that’s the way she’s pitched. She’s getting stronger and stronger at the right time.”

For Lincoln, now is not a good time to not be playing great. The Lady Bears have had trouble scoring in their last few games, but they’ve played some of the toughest competition in the state in those games as well.

To their credit, Rayanna Powell came on after Alexandria built its 5-0 lead and pitched four innings of shutout relief, giving up one hit and striking out five. That got Hess’ attention, concerned about his hitters’ adjustment to a pitching change.

“I wouldn’t say we’re playing bad, we’re just not playing great and right now is when we need to be peaking,” Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge said. “Rayanna came in and pitched great, (but) we didn’t hit the ball very good.”

The Lady Bears will advance to the regional if they beat St. Clair County in Thursday’s first game.

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