E.A. Sports Today

Nemesis does in Lady Cubs

Alexandria falls to Springville in 5A tournament, end brings mixed emotions for senior pitcher O’Dell

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY – Lauren O’Dell knew when she woke up Thursday morning the end was near and it could end only one of two ways.

In any event it was going to bring down the curtain to a brilliant career and season of accomplishment. The fact she knew didn’t make it any easier when it came.

O’Dell and her Alexandria teammates were eliminated Thursday in the Class 5A softball finals many didn’t give them a chance to reach. The season ended in a 9-0 loss to nemesis Springville.

When it was over, the Lady Cubs gathered beyond the centerfield fence Jessica Shaw ran through attempting to flag down the game-breaking grand slam to break down what just took place.

There were tears and hugs all around. It was an emotional scene for a team that battled through adversity all season to get back here.

“I woke up this morning and it was going to end no matter what, whether we won the state championship or got put out,” said O’Dell, the Lady Cubs’ brilliant senior pitcher and the face of the program. “It’s just a lot of disappointment, but a lot of happiness in it, too. … It’s a sad and happy feeling all at the same time.

“For all the people who doubted us this year we made it farther than they ever thought we would.”

O’Dell told Cubs coach Brian Hess she was prepared to give him as many innings in the circle as it was going to take. If it was going to take throwing 500 pitches to win the blue trophy – the Lady Cubs had to win four games today – she was going to do it.

“It was win at all costs and if losing an arm and a leg and losing blood and breaking things was part of it, then that’s what we had to do in order to win,” she said.

As the Lady Cubs (45-11) look back on the game, they’ll reflect on what might have been. They left seven runners on base in the first four innings, four in scoring position. They had the bases loaded in the third.

Springville scored all nine of its runs in the game with two outs. The big blow was Hanna Walker’s grand slam in the fifth after the Lady Cubs opened the door with an infield throwing error.

“Giving up a grand slam just kind of took the air out of us,” Hess said. “We had our opportunities. If we could’ve just gotten that bases loaded hit it would have changed the dynamic of the game in my opinion, but you just never know.

“They’re the returning champions, and there’s a reason why they’re playing the way they are right now.”

Hess said the Lady Cubs have a “good quality team” coming back next season and will miss their three seniors, perhaps none more than O’Dell though, who imprinted her grittiness on the team.

They won’t miss her as much as she’ll miss them.

“I hope I’ve left a lasting impression on them, on this team, but it’s more them than it has been me,” O’Dell said. “They filled my heart with a lot of joy and I am forever grateful for this program.”

Springville went on to win the Class 5A state championship, staging a rally in the final two innings of the “if” game to beat Helena.

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