E.A. Sports Today

Spark-ing a victory

Softball roundup: Leighton Sparks’ sharp single in seventh caps Alexandria’s rally over Southside; also, Pleasant Valley, White Plains, Lincoln

Thursday’s results
Alexandria 7, Southside 6
Lincoln 12, Clay Central 2
Pleasant Valley 5, Piedmont 0
White Plains 18, Cherokee County 4

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Leighton Sparks was down to the last pitch. She was either going to win it or tie it, but she knew she was going to make something happen. That’s just the way the Alexandria softball team rolls these days.

Sparks’ sharp single on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the seventh brought home the winning run as Alexandria edged Southside 7-6 Thursday in a cross-classification battle of top five teams.

The Lady Cubs, ranked third in Class 5A, rallied from deficits of 4-0 and 6-5 to win in their last bats. It was the second time this week they came back from four runs down to win.

“That was a fun game,” Alexandria coach Brian Hess said. “It’s been like that the last two times we played them. It’s still early and we’re still making goofy mistakes, but right now at the plate they just keep fighting.

“We did the same thing with Handley Tuesday night (trailing 4-0 in the fourth) and then to do this to a good 6A team … there’s a lot of fight in them that I don’t even think they know they have yet.”

The winning rally started when Jessica Shaw reached on a two-base infield error and moved to third on a wild pitch ball four to Allison Bonds. Shaw scored the tying run when the Lady Panthers came home on Madi Snow’s grounder to short and failed to get the runner.

The next two Lady Cubs were retired. Sparks worked her count full, then smashed a ball to the right side of the infield that Southside first baseman Savannah Yancey got a glove on but couldn’t corral. Bonds raced home with the winning run.

“I just thought if I didn’t do anything that we’d have to go another inning,” Sparks said. “I felt like it was all on me. I just went up there with confidence because if I got myself worked up I’d be no good. I saw the ball and just put it in play and was hoping for the best.”

It was the second time this year the Lady Cubs beat Southside (6-7), ranked No. 5 in Class 6A.

It also was the third time they’ve won in the four games since going to a nine-batter platoon with pitchers Sparks and Emmah Rolfe similar to the approach that Oxford to a state runnerup finish last year.

Each pitcher goes through the opponent’s lineup once and then the other comes in. Sparks was in the game at the end Thursday and was credited with the victory.

Hess likes the approach because his pitchers haven’t been strong enough to go a whole game. Sparks likes it because it provides her relief from cracked lower back that kept her out most of last season and persists today.

“I’m real pleased with the way our pitchers have been throwing lately,” Hess said. “We’re going to stick to the 9; I think it works out best for us right now.

“If we feel more confident and they get more confidence about themselves and we can length them out then towards the end of the year we’ll let them start going full games but right now we’ll stick with this.”

Southside snapped a 5-5 tie on Becca Feazell’s RBI single in the sixth. Feazell also had a two-run double in the second that gave the Lady Panthers their 4-0 lead. She was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and was on base all four times she came to the plate.

Alyssa Carrizales’ two-run double in the fourth tied it at 5. Carrizales was 2-for-3 in the game. Sparks was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Southside 130 101 0 — 6 9 4
Alexandria 021 200 1 — 7 8 3

WP: Leighton Sparks. LP: Mallary Smith. 2B: Becca Feazell (S), Leighton Sparks (A), Alyssa Carrizales (A).

White Plains 18, Cherokee County 4: Every spot in the lineup had at least one hit as the Lady Wildcats pounded 18 hits, eight that went for extra bases. Carley Wood went 4-for-6 with two homers and three RBIs, Shelby Wood went 3-for-6 with two RBIs, Lily Ponder drove in four runs and Lauren Dodson drove in a pair of runs.

White Plains 014 251 5 — 18 18 2
Cherokee County 001 300 0 — 4 14 5

WP: Hanna Roszell. LP: Karlee Perry. 2B: Ashlyn Hinton (WP), Hanna Roszell 2 (WP), Shelby Wood (WP), Carley Wood (WP). 3B: Lily Ponder (WP). HR: Carley Wood 2 (WP), Emily Williams (C).

Pleasant Valley 5, Piedmont 0: McKinley Parris amd Mikayla Kendrick homered in a three-run fourth inning that helped the eighth-ranked Lady Raiders (12-3-1) pick up their second area win. Olivia Jones threw the shutout, turning back every Piedmont threat. Kayleigh Williams had three hits and Katelyn Lawler and Amber Raney two each for Piedmont.

The Lady Raiders return to action Friday in the Oxford Spring Sting, playing top-ranked 7A Spain Park and Hewitt-Trussville.

Pleasant Valley 010 301 0 — 5 9 0
Piedmont 000 000 0 — 0 12 2

WP: Jones. LP: Kayleigh Williams. 2B: Kayleigh Williams (P), Katelyn Lawler (P), Hannah Hulsizer (P). HR: McKenzie Parris (PV), Mikayla Kendrick (PV).

Lincoln 12, Clay Central 2: Victoria Mitchell homered and winning pitcher Savanna Sands drove in three runs as one of three players with two hits for the fifth-ranked Lady Bears (15-6). Carlee Mullinax and Justice Greene both went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Sands threw four innings, giving up seven hits and two runs.

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