E.A. Sports Today

Prep notes

Piedmont’s Smith steps in as state’s Alabama-Mississippi head coach; Lincoln softball looking for a three-peat in rescheduled Talladega County tournament; softball, baseball, golf reports

By East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY – Piedmont coach Steve Smith directed the Bulldogs to their second straight Class 3A state championship this fall. Now, he has the chance to direct the best players in the state for the second year in a row.

Smith has been named to take the Alabama squad in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game next December at Southern Miss.

He replaces former Opelika coach Brian Blackmon, who stepped down as head coach for the 2017 game after resigning at Opelika and accepting a position with Auburn’s athletic department as a football analyst last month. Blackmon was announced as the all-star head coach in late January.

Smith was aware of the state’s interest in having him become the team’s head coach a couple weeks ago. It was formally announced Monday.

“I am very honored and humbled,” Smith said. “I really enjoyed my two times in the game as an assistant coach. I am looking forward to this opportunity.”

Smith was an assistant coach in last year’s game, a 25-14 win at Cramton Bowl, and in the 2009 Alabama win in Mobile. He wouldn’t have been able to coach in it this year unless he was the squad’s head coach.

“It’s a great honor to get to be a part of the staff representing Alabama and you’re coaching what’s presumed to be the best players in the state,” Smith said. “It’s a great experience for everyone involved.”

Smith has won more than 200 games in coaching stints at Cedar Bluff and Piedmont. His Piedmont teams won 3A state championships in 2009, 2015 and 2016 — finishing last season with a 25-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the AHSAA.

His Piedmont teams have compiled a 123-23 record overall, including 28-8 in 11 playoff appearances and 71-7 in region games. His teams have gone undefeated or suffered just one loss in region play every season since 2007.

The rest of the Alabama staff will be announced in the near future. It will be comprised largely of the 2016 state champion head coaches, although they will need to fill the spots that belonged to Smith and Hoover coach Josh Niblett, who has coached in the game the maximum three times.

LOOKING FOR A THREE-PEAT: The Lincoln softball team can make a bit of history Wednesday – and maybe land on the statewide radar — if it can complete a sweep through the Talladega County Tournament.

Bad weather Saturday interrupted play and tournament officials have rescheduled the remaining games for Wednesday starting at 3 p.m. at B.B. Comer Park in Sylacauga. The Lady Bears will await the survivor of the Munford-Sylacauga-Fayetteville gauntlet through the losers bracket in the 6 p.m. final.

If they win it, the Lady Bears (13-6) would have claimed the title for the third year in a row, a tournament first.

“I don’t think any Lincoln softball team can say they won the county three years in a row,” first-year coach Shea Monroe said. “For our seniors – and we’ve got seven – to say they won the last three it would be big, and it would be big for the younger girls going forward because they know the standard they’re being held to.”

Lincoln has rolled through its first three tournament games, outscoring the opposition 28-0 while throwing two one-hitters and a perfect game. Reh Powell (5-3), who pitched the perfect game against Sylacauga, is scheduled to start in the championship game.

The Lady Bears are 13-6 this season with the six losses coming to teams in higher classifications. They haven’t lost since dropping a 5-2 decision to nationally ranked Spain Park (No. 5). Actually, they are 1-1 this year against teams with national rankings, having beaten Chelsea and the reigning 6A Pitcher of the Year 3-2.

Four of their hitters – Carlee Mullinax (.391), Savannah Sands (.366), Taylor Hough (.562) and Stay Curry (.404) – are all batting over .350. Houck had a team-high 27 hits and Mullniax has a team-high 16 RBIs.

“We’re playing well,” Monroe said. “Our offense is starting to catch up with our pitching. Early in the year our pitching was really good. Pitching and defense have been the strength of our team and the bats are finally starting to catch up to it.” — Al Muskewitz

TUESDAY BASEBALL: Jordan Brown went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and combined with Brock Swafford on a six-hit shutout as Cleburne County blanked Talladega 7-0.

Brown drove in the first three runs in separate innings, then the Tigers broke it open with four in the seventh. Nick Dunston had the big hit, a two-run single. Dunston went 3-for-4. Noah Gaines and Damian Benefield also had two hits for the Tigers.

Brown pitched the first four innings and gave up three hits while striking out six. Swafford pitched the last three, giving up three hits and striking out four.

TUESDAY SOFTBALL: Alexandria pushed across the go-ahead run in a four-run fifth inning on an error and held on to beat Handley 5-4.

The Lady Cubs entered the fifth down 4-1. Timberlyn Shurtbutt singled home the first run of the inning and Madi Snow tied it with a two-run single. Allison Bonds homered for Alexandria in the fourth.

White Plains 11, Hokes Bluff 1: Carley Wood and Katy Roszell both had two-run triples in a five-run first inning and the Lady Wildcats continued to pour it on. Wood drove in four runs, Roszell drove in three and threw a complete-game three-hitter.

The top four hitters in White Plains’ lineup — Isabella Pinto, Shelby Wood, Carley Wood and Ashlyn Hinton — went a combined 9-for-16 with six RBIs.

TUESDAY GOLF: Caroline Waldrop of Spain Park won a share of her fourth straight win and the Lady Jags won their third tournament in a row, taking the Hoover Girls March Madness Invitational.

Waldrop shot a final-round 73 and shared medalist honors with Fairhope’s Virginia Green, who shot the best round of the day (70) at Bent Brook. Since the start of the season Waldrop has had two outright wins (Prattville, Silver Lakes) and two shares (Auburn, Hoover).

Spain Park shot 248 as a team Tuesday and finished at 478, five shots ahead of runnerup Fairhope. Hoover was another shot back in third.

White Plains made a seven-shot improvement over their opening round at Hoover Country Club. The Lady Wildcats finished 13th in the 20-team field.

Hoover Girls March Madness Invitational
Final round at Bent Brook GC
Team scores
Spain Park 230-248—478
Fairhope 241-242—483
Hoover 233-251—484
Muscle Shoals 258-250—508
Huntsville 259-254—513
Providence Christian 268-263—531
Westbrook Christian 267-267—534
Enterprise 272-265—537
Mountain Brook 272-275—547
Spanish Fort 282-280—562
McGill-Toolen 273-293—566
Vestavia 292-288—580
White Plains 295-288—583
Winfield 306-307—613
Jemison 312-308—620
Prattville 341-332—673
Hewitt-Trussville 341-342—683
Florence 364-351—715
Lawrence County 382-378—760
John Carroll 389-389—778

Top 20 Individuals
Caroline Waldrop, Spain Park 69-73—142
Virginia Green, Fairhope 72-70—142
Mychael O’Berry, Hoover 73-80—153
Ally Williams, Athens 81-73—154
Julie Baker, Hoover 74-86—160
Anna Margaret Hayes, Muscle Shoals 78-82—160
Stephanie Fowler, ACA 78-82—160
Emilia Smith, Enterprise 83-78—161
Mary Katherine Horton, Spain Park 76-87–163
Alexis Chambers, Fort Payne 81-84—165
Kate Dean, Fairhope 83-84—167
Savannah Johnson, Huntsville 84-83—167
Brooke Gober, Gulf Shores 82-86—168
Sarah Utley, Huntsville 85-84—169
Holly Woods, Jemison 86-84—170
Alyssa Burnett, Muscle Shoals 88-82—170
Molly Norris, Winfield 82-89—171
Carson McKie, Hoover 86-85—171
Lauren Thompson, Prov Christian 87-84—171
Allison Howard, Prov Christian 88-84—172
Lauren Cole, Glencoe 85-94—179
Hannah Dyer, White Plains 92-94—186
Lexee Cunningham, White Plains 98-94—192
Ary Rosario, White Plains 105-100—205
Baylie Webb, White Plains 111-107—218

Coaches are encouraged to report their scores and highlights to East Alabama Sports Today either via email (almusky@aol.com) or text (256-239-6715).

COMING WEDNESDAY IN EASPORTSTODAY: Read how new Calhoun County Sports Hall of Famer Mike Deerman remained neutral at his coaching sons’ rematch in the Calhoun County Baseball Tournament semifinals, and regardless of the game’s outcome how proud the sons are of their father’s enshrinement.

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