E.A. Sports Today

Big stepping stone

Oxford wins county softball title, eyes bigger prize; Dempsey named MVP as Lady Jackets claim first crown since 2004

Tournament MVP Amber Dempsey rips into her bases-loaded double during Oxford’s eight-run third inning in Friday night’s Calhoun County Tournament title game. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — As big a juggernaut as the Oxford softball team has developed into the last couple years, it’s hard to believe the biggest local prize has eluded its grasp for so long.

The Lady Jackets ended 13 years of frustration Friday when they beat Alexandria for the second time this week 9-3 to win the Calhoun County Softball Tournament title at Choccolocco Park.

Amazingly, it was their first County Tournament crown since 2004. Lady Jackets coach Wendy McKibbin corrected the record after the players collected their championship hardware.

“It’s a big deal,” McKibbin said. “We haven’t done it since 2004. We’ve come up runner-up a few times, but it’s been since 2004.

“This is a special group of kids. They come to play ball. They’re competitive, they’re gritty, they’re hungry, they’ve got something they’re fighting for to get back to Montgomery.

“This is a stepping stone. We’re trying to get better every day, every time we play throughout the season and don’t peak too soon.”

The players suggested the reason for the drought may have been the moment for winning may have been a little too big for them in the past. Now they have all the confidence they can do It.

“In the past when we were playing it got too big for our heads,” centerfielder Haley Lyner said. “When we got up in situations like this and the pressure was on, we just messed up.”

“It like psyched us out,” shortstop Kaylynn Garrett said. “Now it’s sort of like we know we can do this. Before we never thought it was possible, but now we know what we can do, we know we can win stuff like this and come around.”

Oxford’s Amber Dempsey was named tournament MVP. The senior left fielder, who McKibbin said has “been on fire” the last three weeks since a swing adjustment, had at least one hit in each of the Lady Jackets’ four tournament victories. She went 7-for-10 in the tournament with six RBIs, including a grand slam against Wellborn. She was 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the title game.

“I was pretty surprised; I didn’t know I was going to get it,” Dempsey said. “i figured I’d get best offensive tonight, but I’m excited about it. I thought I hit well in this tournament. The way I was hitting was just off and I changed that and since then I’ve been doing a lot better.”

The Jackets pounded 17 hits in the game, spread among six players. Garrett was 4-for-4, Dempsey, Sarah Howell and Brentli Champion had three hits apiece while Clark and Shelby Hicks each had two.

They fell behind early, but erupted for eight runs in the third inning to take control. They sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and were 6-for-8 with the bases loaded in it.

Clark got the first bases-loaded hit to tie the game 1-1 and Dempsey followed with a two-run double to put the Jackets ahead for good. Clark, Garrett and Howell all had two hits in the inning. Hicks had a two-run bases-loaded single later in the inning.

“We had some kids who have been struggling hitting it come out tonight and hit it really well,” McKibbin said. “We came out tonight ready to play. We hit the ball solid, first inning to the seventh inning.”

Howell, Lyner and pitchers JoJo Skinner and Rylee Waldrep were named to the all-tournament team. Skinner was the winning pitcher in the championship game, scattering eight hits and striking out two.

Alexandria’s Timberlyn Shurbutt was the tournament’s outstanding offensive player. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Jessica Shaw, Mattie Wade and seventh-grade pitching sensation Emmah Rolfe. Shurbutt, Wade and Maggie Phillips all had two hits for the Lady Cubs. Millie Burt drove in two runs with a sixth-inning double.

Oxford 9, Alexandria 3
Alexandria 100 002 0 — 3 8 1
Oxford 008 100 x — 9 17 1

WP: JoJo Skinner. LP: Maggie Phillips. 2B: Timberlyn Shurbutt (A), Mattie Wade (A), Millie Burt (A), Amber Dempsey (O). Hitting – Alexandria: Timberlyn Shurbutt 2-4, run; Leighton Sparks 0-2; Jessica Shaw 0-4; Maggie Phillips 2-4, RBI; Kyleigh Rhodes 0-0; Madi Snow 1-3, run; Allison Bonds 0-3; Mattie Wade 2-3, run; Millie Burt 1-3, 2 RBIs; Ashley Phillips 0-1; Logan Irwin 0-0; Emmah Rolfe 0-1. Oxford: Sarah Howell 3-5, 2 runs; Kaylynn Garrett 4-4, run, RBI; Haley Lyner 0-2, run; Bailey Clark 2-4, 2 RBIs; Emily Thrasher 0-0, run; Amber Dempsey 3-4, 2 RBIs; Ashlyn Miller 0-2, 2 runs; Brentli Champion 3-4, run, RBI; Emma Stephens 0-0; Shelby Nelson 0-2, run; Shelby Caldwell 0-0; Claire Trotter 0-0; Shelby Hicks 2-4, 2 RBIs.

All-tournament team: JoJo Skinner (Oxford), Rylee Waldrep (Oxford), Haley Lyner (Oxford), Sarah Howell (Oxford), Jessica Shaw (Alexandria), Maddie Wade (Alexandria), Emmah Rolfe (Alexandria), Leah Patterson (Pleasant Valley), Savannah Williams (Pleasant Valley), Shelby Wood (White Plains), Ashley Hinton (White Plains), Lanie Dreyer (Saks), Kaleigh Williams (Piedmont), Sydney Clements (Ohatchee), Mariah Thompson (Weaver).
Outstanding offensive player: Timberlyn Shurtbutt, Alexandria.
Outstanding defensive player: Kaylynn Garrett, Oxford.
Most valuable player: Amber Dempsey, Oxford.

Timberlyn Shurbutt slides into home plate with Alexandria’s first-inning run as Oxford catcher Sarah Howell waits on the ball.

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Calhoun County Tournament, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

You must be logged in to post a comment Login