E.A. Sports Today

Walk off into history

Sims’ game-winning single punches Weaver’s ticket to first regional trip in fast pitch softball; PV waiting on its area finals foe

By East Alabama Sports Today

There is probably no amount of hyperbole that could accurately portray the importance of Lyndee Sims’ game-winning hit Tuesday night.

Without exaggeration her two-out single in the bottom of the seventh will go down as the most important hit in the history of Weaver softball.

Sims’ hit lifted the Lady Bearcats over Ohatchee 7-6 in the elimination game of the Class 3A Area 9 tournament at Wellborn and, most importantly, qualified them for a spot in the regionals for the first time as a fast-pitch program.

“Right now it probably is the biggest hit in Weaver softball history; the shot heard around the world,” coach Gary Atchley said. “Her hit put Weaver softball on the map. I don’t think it’s going to stop here.”

It has been a long time since the Lady Bearcats have been this far. Atchley has seen a banner at school that tells him they went to the sub-state tournament in 1984, but that was when they played slow-pitch softball. They have never gotten through the area tournament as a fast-pitch team and have never played in the state championship round.

“This means the world to us,” Atchley said. “How big a program builder is that? To get to Tuscaloosa with a bunch of young girls is something. We’re ecstatic.”

The Lady Bearcats (18-16), who’ve won more games this season than in the last five years combined, now play top-seeded Wellborn for the area tournament title Wednesday at 5 p.m., with a second game if necessary set for 7. Both teams are guaranteed spots in the regional regardless of the outcome.

Weaver beat Wellborn twice in the regular-season race, which ended in a three-way tie that had to be decided by a coin toss. Four of the six games in the league were decided by one run in extra innings.

Ohatchee beat Weaver twice during the regular season, but the Lady Bearcats took down the Tribe twice Tuesday, 9-3 and 7-6. They lost to Wellborn 2-1 to drop into the loser’s bracket. The Lady Bearcats were the only team to play three games Tuesday.

Kylee Jordan had a two-run homer and was the winning pitcher in the 9-3 game. She pitched every inning of the three games except the last three innings of the nightcap.

The final game of the night was tied 6-6 when Weaver came to bat in the home seventh. Emily Reed got it started with a hit. Loralei Brown’s hard shot put runners at second and third, and Reed scored the winning run when Sims took the first pitch she saw up the middle for a single.

“After we lost to Wellborn I’m not for sure any of girls knew the enormity of that game against Ohatchee,” Atchley said. “We felt like we were going through the motions early. The Wellborn game hurt.”

By punching its ticket to Tuscaloosa, Weaver now will have played in the state tournament in all three major girls sports this season – volleyball, basketball and softball.

“Coming into the year I thought we had a pretty good team, very competitive,” Atchley said. “It was almost ‘Tuscaloosa or bust’ the way we practiced. It was like if we didn’t get that I wouldn’t have felt we had a good season.”

The Lady Bearcats have had a lot of motivation, especially lately. They wanted to get to North Central Regional to give injured senior second baseman Mallory Welch the chance to play in one more tournament before her high school career ends.

They have made this run with Welch and third baseman Alexis Callahan – their Nos. 4 and 5 hitters – out with injuries. Welch turned an ankle in a recent tournament game with Reeltown and Callahan sustained a concussion diving for a ball Thursday.

“We’ve been playing really well last three or four weeks,” Atchley said. “My girls have played extremely hard for one another.”

Pleasant Valley 14, Glencoe 5: The Lady Raiders (24-22-1) used the long ball to secure its spot in the area championship game and regional tournament.

Mikayla Kendrick went 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs, while Cortney Williams went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a solo homer. Atleigh Brannon came within a homer of hitting for the cycle, going 4-for-5 with a single, two doubles and a triple.

Olivia Jones and Leah Patterson split the pitching duties. Jones worked the first three, giving up three hits and striking out two, while Patterson closed, giving up three hits and striking out five.

The Lady Raiders await the winner of the Piedmont-Glencoe game to decide the championship.

Glencoe beat the Lady Bulldogs 7-5 in the tournament’s first game. The Lady Yellow Jackets erupted for six runs in the fourth inning to open a 7-1 lead and held on.

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